With Julio Rodríguez (wrist) and Jesse Winker (ankle) out, the Mariners’ roster was left perilously thin in the outfield heading into Monday night’s win over the Rangers.
Sam Haggerty, Dylan Moore, and Adam Frazier are not true outfielders. And with Kyle Lewis, Taylor Trammell and Mitch Haniger also all having health concerns, the Mariners could really use a true outfield addition at the deadline.
Second base remains a position of need, but Frazier’s production over the last month has potentially made it less of a pressing issue. The team, however, could still use at least more impactful bat to lengthen its lineup and bolster its offensive depth and the outfield may be the easiest and most beneficial place to find help right now.
Typically, general manager Jerry Dipoto has been reluctant to acquire players who would be considered rentals. This likely won’t be the case in the coming week, though if a player can also help in 2023, that will certainly appeal to Dipoto.
Enter Royals outfielder Michael A. Taylor.
Taylor is under club control through the 2023 season after signing a two-year, $9 million deal with Kansas City this spring. This would allow Seattle to preserve outfield depth for this year’s playoff run and next year.
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He has mostly played centerfield this season, but he would be well above-average in any of the three outfield spots. A Gold Glove winner in 2021, Taylor would bring plus defensive versatility to an outfield that has regularly consisted of primary second basemen.
In addition to his stellar defense, Taylor has been above-average against left handed pitching this year. He is carrying a .418 slugging percentage and a 109 wRC+ against southpaws. Seattle has struggled versus lefties this year and in the past.
Seattle relies heavily on run prevention and good starting pitching, which was challenged over this past weekend. On multiple occasions, the Astros dunked base hits in front of Mariners outfielders to score runs, with far too many balls dropped in front of the likes of Winker and Lewis.
The more the Mariners can improve run prevention in the outfield around Rodríguez, the better off they are going to be. With the offensive struggles of Winker, Taylor could be a platoon partner for him and add depth to a thin roster.
One potential hangup to a deal is that the 31-year old outfielder is not vaccinated, which would render him unavailable if the team were to go Toronto for the postseason.
Overall, Taylor would be a great and relatively inexpensive addition to this roster. The Mariners would be wise to add a veteran outfielder before this year’s trade deadline.