Spring training is officially underway, and it's time to get ready for your fantasy draft. As part of RotoBaller's ongoing effort to help you win your leagues, we're previewing all 30 MLB teams. In these articles, we discuss each team's offseason moves, as well as their hitters, pitchers, and prospects.
Today's installment covers the 2017 Seattle Mariners Team Outlook, and previews their potential fantasy baseball contributions.
Editor's note: for even more draft prep, visit our awesome 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It has lots of in-depth staff rankings and draft strategy columns. You will find tiered rankings for every position, 2017 impact rookie rankings, AL/NL only league ranks and lots more. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.
Normally I would list all the major deals a team made here, but I’m just going to shorten the Mariners up so this doesn’t wind up being 3000 words. The Mariners made a lot of deals. They acquired 2016 breakout shortstop Jean Segura and potential 2017 breakout candidate Mitch Haniger for Taijuan Walker, Ketel Marte and Zac Curtis. They made a series of moves that ended with them acquiring Drew Smyly from Tampa Bay. The only other impact move they made was acquiring Jarrod Dyson from Kansas City for Nathan Karns, finally giving the speedster an opportunity to start.
Segura is moving out of hitter-friendly Chase Field and into the more pitcher-friendly Safeco Field, but I don’t think it will do too much damage to his fantasy value. He may not hit 20 home runs again, but he is batting in front of a far more potent lineup and should score over 100 runs again and continue to steal plenty of bases. Many are pegging Haniger to breakout in 2017 after making some adjustments to his swing and cementing a starting role in Seattle. He could be a sleeper source of power.
Smyly will likely put up identical numbers to what he did last season with the only noticeable change likely to come in the wins category. Dyson should benefit from the move to Seattle as he now has a decent chance of actually receiving regular playing time. Owners should be able to reap the stolen base rewards he grants them.
This Mariners lineup is sneaky explosive. Somehow people often seem to forget just how good it really is. Robinson Cano has not seemed to age and certainly has not been affected by Safeco as evidenced by his MVP-caliber 2016 season in which he hit .298 with 39 home runs, 107 R and 103 RBI. Somehow his 39 homers did not even lead the team as Nelson Cruz blasted 43 on the year in another solid season by the right fielder. He too is getting up there in age, but he will still be one of the premier sources of power in 2017.
Kyle Seager has emerged as one of the best third basemen in baseball and one of the best power hitters out there. He launched 30 dingers in 2016 with a .278 average and should continue to drive in runs a plenty batting behind Cano, Cruz and Segura. Leonys Martin had a great 2016 campaign in which he displayed both a little power (15 homers) and some speed (24 stolen bases). His batting average wasn’t great, but owners will gladly take the power/speed combination.
Unlike the offense, the pitching did not look so solid in 2016 and they don't appear much better for 2017. Hisashi Iwakuma is not a strikeout pitcher, but he is now even worse than he was a couple years ago. He will likely post another 4.00 ERA with barely any strikeouts. He can be avoided in fantasy leagues. King Felix Hernandez had the worst season of his career, but he missed some time from an injury. His fastball velocity was down 1.3 mph, a frightening statistic for anyone hoping for a rebound especially when considering that his injury was unrelated to arm issues. He may no longer be the King in Seattle.
Instead, it appears James Paxton is now the new king. One great season may seem a bit early for a coronation, but all of his numbers were outstanding in his 121 innings of work. He previously had issues with command, but this past season he walked only 4.7 percent of opposing batters. He also struck out 22.9 percent of opposing batters. Most promising of all was the fact was his fastball velocity ran up all the way up to 96.8 mph. For a southpaw starting pitcher, that is lethal. He should continue to shine as the heir to the ace title in Seattle and could be a lights-out starter in 2017.
Edwin Diaz emerged as the new closer in Seattle. He struck out a ton of batters and though his command wasn’t always pinpoint, it is above-average for a young flamethrower. He should rack up 30+ saves all over again.
There’s a lot of prospects who could potentially have an impact in 2017. Dan Vogelbach and Mitch Haniger will both start in 2017 and are both power sleepers in 2017. They may each post 20+ home run totals by season’s end. There are some other guys who may see playing time, but the only top prospect who could receive a call up is Tyler O’Neill. He is going to be blocked in the outfield for a while, but for now fantasy owners can only wait on him to reach the majors.
For fantasy owners, most of the lineup deserves to be drafted in all leagues and they could be a particularly stout source of home runs moving forward. Pitching is a weakness, but with Paxton and Diaz, there are at least some arms worth owning. They are going to be right in the middle of the Wild Card chase in 2017 and will likely help take fantasy owners to the playoffs too.