The Seattle Mariners established their presence in the “open your presents on Christmas Eve” club as they reached an agreement with free agent Mitch Garver on Sunday afternoon.
The Mariners are finalizing a deal with slugger Mitch Garver, according to reports
The two-year, $24 million contract is pending physical examination and is not expected to be officially announced until after the holiday.
The signing is the first by the Mariners this winter and also the longest deal for a free agent in the Jerry Dipoto era. Since the Mariners plan to use Garver primarily as a designated hitter, the signing also represents a departure from the philosophy of rotating players by position that the team has used since the departure of Nelson Cruz after the 2018 season.
With the move, Dipoto and general manager Justin Hollander began rebuilding a lineup that had been depleted following the salary-clearing deals of Eugenio Suarez and Jared Kelenic, and the free agency of Teoscar Hernandez. There is certainly room for the bat that Garver brings.
In batting .270/.370/.500 for a .870 OPS with .138 WRC+ For the World Champion Texas Rangers last season, Garver would have topped the leaderboard for all Mariners with 300 or more plate appearances in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. Among MLB right-handed hitters with 300 PA or more, he ranks eighth in wRC+ and 21st in slugging. There are some strikeouts in Garver's game — 25.6% — but his chase percentage was elite in '23, ranking in the 98th percentile.
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The trick will be to keep him healthy, and that will be a challenge. Spending most of his time as a catcher, he has dealt with a host of injuries in his time with both the Twins, who he came in with, and the Rangers the past two years. Garver has never played in more than 102 games in a season due to numerous injuries, the most recent of which was a knee sprain that kept him out of the Rangers lineup for two months last season. Getting rid of the picking equipment can help greatly.
It's a solid move for the Mariners, and hopefully it will once again be viewed as a good first step in restructuring the lineup after the mini-breakdown. If Garver can stay healthy, he has a history that suggests he can easily replace and improve the numbers of any of the three aforementioned hitters who have disappeared from the lineup.
One down, at least one more left with the remaining needs on the field. For now, there's a small breather in a turbulent offseason, and a promising sign with the signing of a highly sought-after free agent with the Mariners.
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