LAS VEGAS — The Seattle Mariners have received multiple trade offers on All-Star outfielder Mitch Haniger over the past week to 10 days. And that will continue until teams like the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals finalize their outfield situations.
Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto has said he would have to be blown away by a trade offer to move Haniger. That has yet to happen.
“There have been a handful of teams that have taken a handful of passes at Mitch,” Dipoto said. “We’re just not willing to go there. We’ve had a handful try, but they haven’t quite gotten to where we would even consider it.”
Sources indicate that the Mariners are willing to listen, but they want a sizable player/prospect return of three to four players, including two high-level prospects, including a pitcher. Dipoto makes that very clear when meeting with teams.
“As a personal trader and what we as a group have established, we are pretty candid and pretty honest when we are dealing with other teams,” he said. “They know what we are willing to do and what we are intending to do and that makes the conversations pretty direct.”
Dipoto won’t stipulate the exact aspects of a return. But just an idea of what they are looking for.
“I don’t tell them, this is what we want,” he said. “I tell them that if you want to blow me away, go ahead give it a shot because my thought is that if I tell them what I want and they say, yes, then I have to accept it. But if I let them try to blow me away, then I don’t have to say, yes.”
Seems like a logical way to approach things.
“I’ve been asked many times why we make so many deals and how we make so many deals,” Dipoto said. “It’s because we tell people what we are looking for. And if they are willing to do that deal, then we do it. If they are not willing, then we just move on. More often than not, the deals we are putting together are generally intended to get us the piece we want while we are giving them what we feel is fair value. It makes it a little easier to do our business.”
Haniger is coming off a breakout season. He was Seattle’s most productive hitter for most of the 2018 season. With a mature approach and a relentless attitude toward preparation, he hit .285 (170 for 596) with a .366 on-base percentage, a .493 slugging percentage, 90 runs scored, 38 doubles, four triples, 26 home runs, 93 RBI and 70 walks in 157 games.
After injuries hampered him in 2017, Haniger played in more games than any other Mariners player in 2018 while making just $560,000. Haniger will make around that total next and then have three years of arbitration eligibility before reaching free agency in 2022. At age 27, Haniger is a late bloomer and will be in his 30s before he reaches free agency. The Mariners could buy out his arbitration years and his first year of free agency with an extension, but they might be wise to wait at least another season before making that decision.
Given his production, work ethic and low cost, Haniger is certainly attractive to any team, but playoff contenders that are flirting with the luxury-tax threshold see value in adding a player such as him where they get All-Star production and a reduced rate.
“We see Mitch as a late bloomer,” Dipoto said. “He’s an athletic guy. He represents everything we would like to gear ourselves toward. He is an example of how we want our players to think about the game, how we want them to prepare for the game. The fact that he’s turned into such a good player is gravy.
“By WAR, he was among the 5-6 top corner outfielders in the game, controllable, super affordable for four years. The last two of those years we believe we’re going to be back in a competitive window. The first two years he can serve as an example of how we want our players to grow. To us that’s a great investment.”