The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Seattle Mariners look to make teamwide leap in 2024

Offseason veteran additions, young player projection working together
J.P.+Crawford+points+up+after+hitting+a+home+run+during+an+MLB+Spring+Training+game%2C+March+11+in+Peoria%2C+Arizona.+
BRANDON WILLMAN
J.P. Crawford points up after hitting a home run during an MLB Spring Training game, March 11 in Peoria, Arizona.

PEORIA, Ariz. – In 2022, the Seattle Mariners snapped their offseason drought and even won a playoff series. But, in a disappointing 2023 season, they finished third in the AL West at 88-74 and missed the postseason entirely. 

In the offseason, the team made some moves in an effort to improve their roster, and, subsequently, their chances to run it back in the postseason. 

Reigning World Series winner Mitch Garver, Jorge Polanco, Mitch Haniger, Luke Raley and Gregory Santos. These new additions bring veteran presence, lineup stability and in Haniger’s case, a sense of clubhouse jubilation for his reunion in Seattle. 

Garver is the biggest addition; coming off a World Series win with the division-rival Texas Rangers, the 32-year-old catcher brings a bat with 30 home run potential to sure up the middle of the order. 

Projections like The Athletic’s have the Mariners finishing around 87 wins and being a Wild Card postseason team. ESPN gives the team a projected 86 wins and a 51% chance to make the postseason. Finally, Bleacher Report projects them at 85 and out of the postseason, but Garver hopes the move is less of a downgrade and more in line with a lateral move. 

“We have expectations of winning the division. I think we have the talent to do it, we have the young talent and we brought in some veterans,” Garver said.

In 2023, he had a regular season OPS of .870 and even with 10-for-34 in the ALDS and ALCS during the Rangers WS run. He said his biggest personal goal is to stay healthy and productive over a full season, something he will benefit from with the Mariners with the opportunity to hit in the designated hitter slot of the order. 

Being looked at as someone who brings recent high-level playoff experience to an otherwise lackluster group in high-stakes experience, Garver said the biggest thing is to not look too far forward into the season.  

“The early games in April, May, matter just as much as the games in September. It puts you in the position halfway through the year to acquire new talent,” Garver said. 

Hitting around Garver includes young star Julio Rodríguez, a two-time All-Star and popular future MVP pick; Polanco, a 111 OPS+ hitter for his career who hit 14 HR in 80 games last season; J.P. Crawford, a high-walk rate, doubles machine shortstop at the top of the order; and Cal Raleigh, a 107 career OPS+ switch-hitting catcher, among others.

Rodríguez is the top guy at just 23 years old, a five-tool outfielder who has the brand, the talent and the support of the fans. 

Seattle’s bread and butter is the pitching, though, as they project to rank at the top of the league in that side of the field. 

Luis Castillo, George Kirby, Logan Gilbert, Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo (injured to start the season) man a rotation that is rivaled by few others. The three-headed Castillo, Kirby and Gilbert monster can each make a case for Cy Young candidacy in 2024 and Miller and Woo are young arms entering their sophomore seasons. 

Miller especially has taken it upon himself to find ways to improve over the offseason. His 2023 ERA of 4.32 is far from bad, but he said he struggled more than he would have liked against left-handed batters.

“[Last season] lefty’s got me a little bit, so in the offseason, I worked on stuff to get [them] out,” Miller said. “Really, the goal is to make 32 starts this year and be better than I was last year.”

While limited right-handed batters to a .200 batting average and .315 slugging percentage, lefties hit like All-Starts against the 25-year-old. Batting .303 and slugging .558 over the season. 

Last season, he had a four-pitch mix of a fastball, slider, changeup and curveball, he struggled to find an effective pitch to get that side of the plate out. 

He knew during the season a change was imminent, but did not start experimenting with expanding his repertoire until the offseason, when he added the splitter. 

“I figured I wanted to [add the splitter] last season but couldn’t really do it in season. I started trickling it in during the offseason to play with different grips,” Miller said. “It’s come a long way, I really like where it’s at, I think it’s going to be a big pitch for me.” 

Slowing integrating the pitch after working on different grips, it’s now ready for his opening start of the 2024 season. 

Offseason additions like Garver and developing young talent like Miller are two peas in the pod of building a successful and sustainable MLB team, with the 2024 Mariners prepped and ready to begin their season at 7:10 p.m. against the Boston Red Sox.

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About the Contributor
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.