February 26, 2024

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Mariners sign Mitch Garver

Mariners sign Mitch Garver

Sailors and Mitch Garver They agreed to a two-year, $24 million contract, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan (via X). The deal will become official when Garver passes his physical. Garver is represented by ISE Baseball.

while Cal Raleigh Garver remains Seattle's best backup, giving the Mariners a standout bat who can serve as a backup catcher and a regular presence at designated hitter. That was a role Garver filled with aplomb with the Rangers last season, hitting .270/.370/.500 with 19 homers in over 344 plate appearances while serving mostly as a DH to allow the All-Star Jonah Heim Regular time behind the plate. Garver was then the exclusive first choice DH in the Rangers' postseason run, hitting .226/.317/.434 with three homers over 60 PA to help Texas capture its first World Series title.

It wasn't exactly an ideal season for Garver, as he missed nearly two full months early in the season with a left knee sprain. This continues the pattern of injuries that have plagued Garver throughout his career, as he has played in just 232 of a possible 546 games since the start of the 2020 season. These health issues (ranging from forearm surgery, intercostal strains, and knee, hip and back issues) have contributed to Garver's limited usage. Increasingly at catcher, a move to a DH role would help him stay on the field with more money. Regularity.

This made for something of a difficulty entering free agency for Garver, because while he was technically the best catcher on the market, it was risky for the team to rely on him for anything more than a timeshare at the position. As MLBTR's Nick Deeds suggested back in October, Garver's ideal landing spot might be “a team with another reliable option to catch, so Garver can have a clear path to DH playing time and face less pressure to fit in regularly behind the plate.”

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The Mariners fit the project perfectly, as Raleigh has established himself as a No. 1 catcher and a big-time powerhouse over the past two seasons. The switch-hitting Raleigh has much better numbers against right-handers than against left-handers, which matches up well with Garver's ability to hit right-handers in a left-handed pitching mix.

Tom Murphy He signed with the Giants last week, though the M's appear prepared for that departure by acquiring the catcher Sebi Zavala as part of Eugenio Suarez Trade with Diamondbacks. If Garver were to primarily be a DH, the Mariners might still have room for Zavala on the roster to serve as a traditional backup catcher. This could avoid some roster maneuvering since Zavala is out of minor league options, so the Mariners would have to designate him for assignment and put him on the waiver wire if they want to send him to the minor leagues.

Seattle has been known to be looking for a solid bat for its DH spot, and a right-handed hitter in particular to help balance the lineup. Names like Jorge Soler, JD MartinezAnd Rhys Hoskins She was reportedly on the Mariners' radar, but Garver will now join the roster on a two-year agreement. It's a little less than the three-year $39 million MLBTR expected for Garver, though it's still a good payday for players teams might have viewed as more of a DH than a regular backup.

Adding a big-time bat at all costs also helps change the narrative of what has been a downer for Mariners fans. The Mariners are set to take full ownership of regional sports network ROOT Sports Northwest on January 1, and the associated additional costs are said to have limited the team's ability to spend on player salaries. President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto said in early December that the Mariners' payroll would rise from an estimated $140 million figure starting in 2023, yet most of the club's moves before signing Garver were designed to cut costs. The Suarez trade removed a significant salary from the books, and then Seattle shed a lot of money in a five-player trade with the Braves that saw… Jared Kelenic It was mainly treated as a way to unload contracts Marco Gonzalez And Evan White.

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According to List resources, the Mariners' projected 2024 payroll is now about $128.5 million with Garver's salary added. Taking the $140 million figure from 2023 into account, this still gives the M's some flexibility to pursue additional needs, such as an outfielder or outfield help. Dipoto has downplayed the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčtrading from the team's young backfield depth, however this may be a more cost-effective way to get help for a position player than signing another free agent.

Signing Garver actually represents a departure for Dipoto on one hand, as he doesn't often make notable splashes in free agency. Remarkably, Garver is the first free agent for a position player (and only the fourth free agent ever) and Dipoto was signed to a multi-year contract during his eight years running Seattle's front office. This could mean that Garver could be the right fit for the Mariners this winter in terms of relatively high-profile free agent signings, or perhaps Dipoto will change his tactics and look to other free agents in order to bolster the lineup further.

Image courtesy of USA Today Sports Pictures