Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/28/12
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Can M’s make a splash? Should they? With a deep farm system, sturdy ace and offensive building blocks the Seattle Mariners are on the fringe of becoming relevant in the American League once more. But first they have some holes to fill. That’s where this crop of free agents come in. It’s not particularly deep, but there’s plenty of established players that could have a huge impact on the future of the M’s. Anibal Sanchez – SP 2012 stats: 9-13, 3.86 ERA, 195.2 IP, 1.267 WHIP, 7.7 K/9 With a young rotation, and plenty of spots up for grabs, Anibal Sanchez makes perfect sense for Seattle. I personally believe he should be highest on the Mariner’s free agent wish list. Sanchez is constantly underrated, and yet he continues to put up stellar numbers. The 28-year old is the epitome of workhorse, pitching more than 190 innings three seasons in a row. As he enters his prime he’s developed stellar control, posting K/BB ratios above 3.00 over the last two seasons. Sanchez could instantly shore up Seattle’s rotation. (Photo: AP) He’s even proven he can handle the American League, pitching better for Detroit than Miami after his mid-season trade. Sanchez could come with a steep asking price, but is well worth the money. His numbers would be well suited in Safeco, and he would make a great No.2 starter behind Felix Hernandez. Sanchez would also give Seattle the flexibility to shop one of their young pitching prospects, while allowing the Mariners to feel less rushed in their development. Mike Napoli – C/1B/DH 2012 stats: .227/.343/.469, 53 runs, 24 HR, 56 RBI The Mariners have an obvious void to fill at first base, and need some new power in their lineup. With a thin free agent class, their best bet could be a bargain on Mike Napoli. The M’s know Napoli well, as he’s spent his entire career between the Angels and Rangers. The 31-year old has one of the most consistent power bats in the AL, posting 20 or more home runs five seasons running. Even amidst fluctuating on base percentages, Napoli has scored 284 runs over those same five season. A first/catcher/DH rotation of Napoli, Jesus Montero and John Jaso would keep a constant power presence in the lineup, while keeping all three players well rested—which is vital to Montero’s long term success. While he’s not the best power bat on the market, his consistent power numbers is exactly what Seattle needs. B.J. Upton – OF 2012 stats: .246/.298/.454, 79 runs, 28 HR, 78 RBI, 31 SB There’s been plenty of speculation about the Mariners and Josh Hamilton. But honestly I just don’t see it happening. The asking price would set Seattle back, and the team doesn’t necessarily have the best luck when it comes to injury prone outfielders. The 28-year old Upton hits free agency entering his prime years, and features the best combination of power and speed on the market. Over his last two seasons, Upton has dual seasons with 20 plus home runs, 40 plus steals and a .750 plus OPS. Not to mention his solid defense. Upton has the ability and range to play all three outfield spots, though he’s played most of his career in center. Upton would have a twin-fold effect on the M’s. His defensive skills and flexibility would give the Mariners one of the best defensive outfields in baseball. Offensively, he would finally fill Seattle’s void at leadoff while providing some vital speed in the lineup. Though Josh Hamilton seems like the more sexy pick, B.J. Upton is the way Seattle should go. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE MARINERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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