Haniger - Smith RF Platoon
so that's what a two-run 3B looks like out of the box


One of my favorite weekly features is Greg Johns' mailbag.  It might not be as nutrient-dense as the comments thread at a university blog, and might not be as lively as a NinersNation recap of Trent Baalke's career.  But Johns usually succeeds in embedding a bit of info that you and I can use.

On Haniger today:


What is the chance of Mitch Haniger being the everyday right fielder this season? Is his upside that good?
-- Carlos C., Tampa

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto is very high on Haniger, who he considered a key part of the Taijuan Walker - Jean Segura trade with the D-backs. At this point, the plan is for a right-field timeshare between the right-handed-hitting Haniger and lefty-swinging Seth Smith, but much will be determined by how well Haniger hits when given the chance to show exactly what he can do at the Major League level.

Dipoto loves the defensive ability and athleticism of Haniger, who has played primarily center field in the Minors and during his brief time with the D-backs last year. The 26-year-old has hit well against right-handers in the past, so it's possible he could develop into an everyday option. Though he hit just .191 in his first 14 games with Arizona last year as a rookie, he put up a .258/.333/.500 line with five homers and 11 RBIs over his final 20 games. He was also a .321 hitter with 25 homers in 129 games at Double-A and Triple-A in 2016, so the potential is certainly there.


1) Johns has been around long enough to grok what most fans never will:  that come March, the playing time will shake itself out.  But Seth Smith is like a joke candle on a birthday cake - you can extinguish him on paper as many times as you like, and he keeps fizzling back on base.


2) But he's also been around long enough to grok what happens to a young player when a GM reqlinquishes the fillings out of his teeth for him.  See also Karns, Nate.  Remember the definition of gullibility?  Believing what a person keeps saying when it's contrary to what they keep doing.  Oh, sure, there will be competition among equals.  But you can't squander a $4B airplane for nothing.


3) Speaking of words vs. actions, JeDi brings up the issue of plus-plus defense in right field ... according to my calculations, Seth Smith would have to hit .343/.404/.545 to make up the defensive gap here.  (Name that .343 player season.)  The last time we used a center fielder in right at Safeco, it turned out fine.  By "fine" we mean ten straight seasons over 5 WAR.  There are some defensive bases to cherry-pick out there.


4) Here is the November SSI grok on Haniger.  Swing analysis included.


5) Here is a fresh read on Haniger this week.  Good thoughts on UZR and "prospect fatigue."  Worth the clickthrough.


6)  Two Words:  .670.


Dr D




Maybe GMs even more than fans!

But the thing I love about this offseason is that JD is not smelling his own perfume.  

He LOVES Haniger--but just in case, he knows exactly what he will get if he has to fully turn to Smith.

He LOVES Vogelbach--but just in case, he knows exactly what he will get if he has to fully turn to Valencia.  

He (kinda, I guess) LOVES Zunino...but just in case, he knows exactly what he will get if he has to turn to Ruiz.  

Maybe just as impressive is the pile of starting pitcher depth--even if they're back end guys.  

Just find us that one more quality starter!...


He's a real  valuable guy if he's a CF.  I think that's a fair lock.

He homered every 22 AB's last year.  That's clearly not unsustainable.  That's a Seth Smith rate.  Haniger needs to keep BB'ing at a 80+ pt. level.  But if he's in CF and "only" gets to 95 OPS+, well then, he's a real good guy to have.  

In a COF, he's less so...unless his glove is CF-type and gets a ton of + plays.

He's promising.  But I'm not sure that promise tops out as a big COF bat.  Rooting against that analysis.


There are a *few* guys who sustain the "soft skills" 4 WAR template.  Jason Heyward.  Safeco would be the place to do it in RF.  Wonder to what extent Mitch Haniger could aspire to a Heyward template... right now it's not looking like Heyward deserved a *mammoth* contract but J-Hey has certainly helped his clubs win a few ballgames.

But, yeah.  I'd be thrilled if it all shook out so that Haniger took over in CF.  Some of the rumors this winter had Leonydas dangled in trade talks.

Glancing at Heyward's baseball card, it seems like a skill set target for Haniger if he's in RF; people wouldn't make the connection because Heyward was a pheenom.  But still.


dude slugged seven trillion in AAA and his a compact, powerful swing with easy gap power the opposite way.  Why do we think he can't outslug Seth Smith of all people?  Why are we comping him to soft skills guys like Heyward?

To me, he looks like .260/.340/.460 standing still.


the Smith Homer rate isn't unsustainable for Haniger.  How much higher he goes is the question.  DiPoto thinks he's going higher.


At .260, Haniger gets into "pretty valuable" range, assuming his glove, even in RF, is as advertised.  He BB's at a nice rate (or did last year in a SSS) and he's got that exit velocity.

He was dang good in AA last year, went ballistic in Reno (who doesn't?) and that carried over to a promising MLB experience.  He had 548 "exciting" PA's last year. DiPotogifted him a 25-man spot on those 548.  He must see something baseball-sexy.

He's an easy guy to root for, isn't he?


Well, it's more correct to say that he was awful in 2016. Before 2016, he was a fairly reliable mid-3's ERA/180 inning guy and he's only 30. That's the pitcher DiPoto wants/hopes he's getting. Shrug - he's one more guy to throw into the #4/5 starter pool. 

Taro's picture

Ya, but you can't evaluate pitchers that way. Felix was an ace less than two years ago. Gallardo's stuff and command has been in decline since the middle of the 2015 season (just like Felix).

I don't like it. Your married to him and what is likely to be terrible results early on until you learn your lesson and swap him out. And you gave up a usefull OF to do it.

In my mind this is a downgrade to the OF, most likely a downgrade to the SP, and means we are likely finished making moves.


I watched him closely in 2016...he is about to become completely useless.  His swing was getting slower and slower...he was having more and more trouble with aggressive heat, struggling more and more with staying back on off-speed...and his K rate was climbing toward the end.  I think he is done as a useful player in 2017.

I'm looking at Gallardo via the pitch f/x data:

1) No change in velocity in the last five years (none that would hold up as significant), no change in the effectiveness of his fastball, but a big drop in FB% and a concurrent rise in sliders.  The slider, such as it is, was TERRIBLY ineffective in 2016, and yet he threw it more often.  This puzzles me.

2) He is no longer a groundball pitcher. This killed him in Baltimore but is less fatal in Safeco

3) His command is going...he won't get deep into games if he is walking people

Yeah...as much as I think Smith is done and am glad he's out of Haniger's way (and no...I don't think that's a downgrade...I think it's a big upgrade), I don't like Gallardo much.

Taro's picture

Possible, and hes at the age where he is year-to-year. Even so, doesn't mean you had to take on Gallardo. Could've just rejected the option.

Gallardo has lost some snap off his slider. Really since 2015, but even worse last year. His fastball has slowly been declining over the years. Hes also not as good command wise, although a lot of that is nibbling. You're talking about a guy who needs to reverse the aging process on his arm in order to be effective. Don't like those chances.


Rushed, tired his shoulder, changed his exercise routine, and got stronger over the season.  I looked at TexasLeaguers.com, and his Slider (normally 3.2"+ horizontal movement) was at 1.22" horizontal through June.  In July and August it was 2.3, and in September it was back up to 2.65 (in September, he ran 8.9 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, and 0.9 HR/9).  Looking at fangraphs, every pitch but the slider rated the same as previous seasons, so I'll buy that he would look pretty bad while failing to get enough slide on his most used pitch.  If his slider returns, he's a way more reliable starter than Nate Karns.

Taro's picture

He threw the slider 34% of the time last year and gave up a .339/.410/.576 line. Which is the equivalent of a good year from Paul Goldschmidt.

In September batters slugged .688 against his slider, higher than any single hitter slugged over a full season in 2016.


Even at the end of the season, it was still moving almost an inch less than the previous season, but it seemed to be going in the right direction.  

He only threw 59 sliders (16% of his pitches) in September (according to Brooks - TexasLeaguers has him at 18%, but he wasn't throwing it as much in September), of which 44% were swung at.  If you assume about half were fouled off, hitters went about 6-16 with a double and a home run against Gallardo's slider.  The whole season was bad, but the .688 SLG in September isn't as bad as it looks.  

It might also be worth noting that the Orioles outfield defense was rated the absolute worst in baseball last season with a collective -51 from DRS and a -36.7 from UZR per Fangraphs.  The Mariners (who were also sat around -15 last season) currently project to be somewhere in the +30 Range for Outfield run prevention.


The M's were buying innings with Smith. 

I'm betting that DiPoto is comfortable with his young arms and this purchase is insurance.

Considering that Smith historically brings bullpen arms, this isn't a terrible deal.

Haniger/Valencia in RF?  Another signing?

Tank riding a rocket to Safeco?

Something like this was to be expected, with all the Smith trade rumors out there.


...the Shandler folks aren't.

Missed two months with shoulder injury after rough April, but things hardly improved upon return. Posted career-worst Cmd, BPV, and xERA, while FpK continues to speak to strained relationship with strike zone. The pitcher you remember from 2009-12 no longer exists. It's time to move on.

On the other hand, I agree that this is a) just an insurance move, and b} an indication of Smith's value on the open market.

I believe JD's shopping cart is not yet full.


I'm not going to kick at all.  No sir.

Gallardo, even before last season, never overwhelmed anybody with his WHIP/FIP peripherals (minus the 3.02 FI in 2010).  But what he does do, like clockwork, is pitch into the 6th inning and compete.  This guy is 108 and 83, even with his lousy '16.  He battles.  Even last year, once he was back from shoulder troubles (actually, from July 1 on), only 4 of his 16 starts were terrible/no good/ugly ones:  4 innings, 6 hits, 4 ER's; 4.1 innings, 5 hits, 5 ER's; 1.1 inning, 6 hits, 7 ER's; 3.1 innings, 7 hits, 6 ER's.

OK, I know that is cherry-picking, but in the other 12 starts he NEVER threw less than 5 inings, with totals of 70.2 innings, 65 hits and 28 ER's.  That's a 3.55 ERA guys.  He competes.

3 of his final 4 starts last season were 6 innings, 5 hits, 3 ER's; 5 innings, 5 hits, 1 ER; 6 innings, 6 hits, 2 ER's.  His shoulder looks decently healthy there.  He's only 30, btw. Well, 31 in 6 weeks.

He gives you 95 to 105 hard-working/competing pitches in 80% of his starts. 

That, for a guy none of us loved much, anyway.  Gallardo lost 1 MPH on his FB, from the season before, but it would be interesting to know how much of that loss was before the shoulder issue and how much he had gained back at the end of the season.  Will leave that one to Doc.  He did have fewer swings/misses last season.  And he walks guys.

But I'm not seeing anything that wasn't worth Seth Smith.  The upside is pretty up here.  Better than I thought we would get for our guy.

I'm in.  I like it.

And I bet we have a FA OF in mind to spend some cash on.  Won't be a Top Dollar guy.  Who out there is a one-year signing? Saunders will want 3, likely. Will he sign for two?  Valbuena isn't an OF?  Rasmus is. He was terrible last year (mostly against LHP...well, not good vs. RH) but he has a productive track record and is a + OF.  he would be a one year guy.  Anybody I've missed? 

Of course, Detroit is seeking a CF'er....and JD Martinez might be had, if you sweeten the pot.  Would two years of Martin, and a bauble, get you close to one year of Martinez?

Just checked:  Brandon Moss, and his 25 HR's in 343 vR PA's is still out there.  Can play 1B, too.  Probably a one year guy.  No worse in the OF than Smith. Hit's lefties some, too.  He's a one-year guy, don't you think.  Has hit 21-30-25-19-28 HR'ls the last 5 years. He's apossible...and probably cheap, as far a FA's go.


There's a scene in "For Love or Money" where a concierge played by Michael J Fox is swapping comp tickets in the park with other concierges.  This feels like that.  "Two of these for one of these, one of these for 4 of those, trade two for ones back to their original owners and we're all happy."  As long as the merry-go-round comes out with talent that produces on the field, fine.


Didn't see that.

But Dyson is a career .697 guy vs. RHP (.700 lasst year) and .590 vs. LHP.  He hits 1 HR a year.

He's not going to be our everyday COF.  Nope.  And he's a 1-yr and gone guy.  Yikes.

If we've got Dyson coming here.....we're shipping Martin elsewhere. Bet'cha. Then the trade becomes Karns for whoever we get.  Martinez, I reiterate?

Straight up, Karns for Dyson is a bad trade.  Heck, Booger might give you that.  But Karns for Dyson as Part II of a three part swap-fest is kindo interesting.

We're getting a bat.  And we're sending Martin somewhere for it.  Otherwise Dyson doesn't make much sense. To me, anyway. 

Although Martin-Haniger-Gamel-Dyson is a pretty glovey foursome.  But so is Heredia instead of Dyson.


Smith-for-Gallardo was to free up Karns, Karns goes to get Dyson so that Martin can be moved and the Ms can platoon glove men in CF, leaving Martin to be traded for... someone.

So in the end it's an improvement on Smith that we want, while get stoploss guys at the other two positions (back-end pitcher and CF).

Let's see what Act III brings.


JD just woke up from his long winter's nap.

Is there a harder GM to predict?  I have a vision of him in a back room with his social meida guys.

"Has anyone online anywhere ever connected us to Gallardo?  Dyson? Ever? No?  OK, here we go!...."



Dyson, 32, gives the Mariners a veteran outfielder who can tandem with youngsters Ben Gamel and Mitch Haniger in the corner spots after Dipoto traded Seth Smith to the Orioles earlier Friday for starter Yovani Gallardo, while also serving as a quality backup to center fielder Leonys Martin.

"Jarrod brings us a winning pedigree, along with elite level defense and baserunning," Dipoto said. "He joins players like Leonys Martin and Jean Segura in creating a disruptive element on the bases to our offensive game, while also enhancing our ability to prevent runs on defense."

I have to assume that's to maintain Martin's trade value, as if we'll stick with these glove guys on corner positions who can't hit.  Of course with DiPoto, you never know.

Taro's picture

Don't really like the deal since Dyson only has one year left and Karns had four... trading good upside for immediate need.

Still, Dyson is more likely to be an upgrade in 2017. Dyson is basically a Martin clone, but with less Ks and less power (honestly probably even a bit better with the glove).

NOW you absolutely need a platoon RH OF bat though. Can't have two of those guys in the same lineup vs LHs.

Defensively our OF is insaaaanely good right now. But MAN, our rotation is lacking in upside.. Whats there asides from Paxton?


Steamer projections (as of this morning):

Heredia  0.2 in 128 AB

Gamel  0.2 in 249 AB

Dyson  1.4 in 324 AB

Haniger 1.5 in 492 AB

Martin 1.4 in 526 AB

Smith 1.2 in 482 AB


Dipoto looking at Dyson in LF, Martin in CF, Haniger in RF with Gamel and Heredia battling it out for the other spot.


Martin's not going anywhere.

Dyson is essentially the 4th OF. He may get 400 PAs (which is way above anything he's done in the past), but he's going to be insurance to let Haniger and Gamel develop, and to hold a place.

Dyson's ability to play all 3 OF positions and proven ability as a PH/PR/off-the-bench substitute is what constitutes his value and the way he'll be used. 

Heredia will start in Tacoma, or will go in a round 3.

Ross, Hammel, Fister choice coming next. May not be enough chips for any other trade(s).

Neftali Feliz is on the radar; or someone like him with connections to DiPoto/Servais/Bogar, for another BP arm. Have also seen Hochever mentioned. Would allow Altavilla and Zych to pitch at whatever leverage they're capable of, and have a guy in the newly popular fireman role until they're ready.

Miranda will be the LH non-LOOGY weapon in the BP.

A trade or signing of a RH bat that can play the OF well is still a possibility, but the Dyson signing looks to me like an open invite to O'Neill for June/July


4 years of Karns for 1 of Dyson?  It can't be, I think.  Just go buy Bourjos.  He's Dyson lite.  Heavy, in some years.  Minus 25 SB's.

Taro's picture

It really is hard to understand how a second player wasn't involved, or why we couldn't have traded someone either than Karns. Seems Dipoto just really isn't high on him anymore, despite trading for him last year.

And I really like Dyson.. but man. These are a couple brutal deals.


I have no trouble with the first deal.....even as a stand alone thing.  We got innings, which are hard to buy this year; we gave up a replaceable bat.  The innings have an upside, the bat a downside.  Thumbs up to that one.

The 2nd deal, stand alone or as #2 of 2, is a stinker.  LControlled live arms, even ones with "potential", are going for a premium you might notice.  Man, just a while back some folks were speculating that it took 2-3 prospects to get Smyly, more for Odorizzi.  Just a yeaer ago, Karns threw nealy 150 innings with a 3.67 ERA.  I can't buy that DiPoto just gave up on him in a whole 94 innings.  Heck, good RP's are more valuable than eveer right now.  If karns is "only" and RP, that is.

Just to give us two + Glove, low pop, 90 OPS OF'ers, btw.  Hey, Heredia was already in camp.  Boog on the way.  Gamel might be better than Etc.  Dyson is a pretty soft 2-3 WAR guy.   He's not really an OBP guy.....so he has to glove it and steal bases.  If this is stand alone, it smacks of the Figgins acquisition.

It smells too much like another deal is coming down the pike.  I hope!!


But (thought of this on the way home), if you think about this trade as two differnt trades:  Galardo for Karns and then Dyson for Smith, then it smells a bit different.

It becomes...

1. 1 or 2 (if you QO) years of innings for 4 years of promise.

2. And an OF for OF swap, flash and dash for (sort of) bash.

Done in that manner, you would argue that the OF for OF swap made sense in many ways, but the P for P swap didn't really...in that you can go buy Gallardo's innings in Fister, etc.  But it does give you a different way of looking at it.

asok's picture

When I look at these two trades I see personality and clubhouse chemistry as large factors. It is something we've speculated about with some of Jerry's biggest trades (Taijuan, Wade Miley, Roenis Elias?) and just this week we learned about the new character and leadership coordinator.

As is, the Mariners are a team filled with fun-loving players. Think about Robbie and Nelson and the vibe they create around the clubhouse, always smiling and joking with Felix, Martin, Heredia, and Miranda (presumably Ruiz, Segura too). Now ask yourself if you ever saw Karns get in on the fun; I'm not sure I did (granted I didn't see many games). At least with other "mild" players (Paxton, Seager, Zunino, Iwakuma) they have some redeeming qualities as contributors or character guys, but I can't come up with one for Karns. Then I think about Gallardo, who I know next to nothing about, and have to assume at the least he will joke around with the other Latin players.

And then there is Smith, who provided a valuable example as a professional batter, but not a whole lot of clubhouse energy. Enter Dyson, who I have only seen a few times, but recall as a bit of a firecracker (the antithesis of Austin "lame" Jackson). All in all, our clubhouse just became more fun. And as we've seen in recent years that sort of energy can lead to "up" years, especially when coupled with growth from our younger players (Vogs and Haniger, here's to looking at you).

Who knows though - my sensors could be "off"



It's common knowledge that last year's trades factored this in majorly (e.g. Brad Miller) and JeDi indicated as much with respect to "Tie One On."  Definitely something to watch w/r/t Dyson.



I like bringing Gallardo in for Smith.  It's another 100+ IP for the BOR, with upside from there (probably equivalent upside to what Karns represented, though nowhere near the same long-term value).  If Gallardo works out, you've got him for another year at reasonable money.  Fine deal, just a standard shuffling-of-the-assets trade that doesn't wow anybody but which levels the talent distribution throughout the org.

Karns-Dyson, though?  Dyson is 32 years old, and his entire offensive game is speed.  He's Juan Pierre-lite with the bat and he's four years older than Martin, so going forward it's hard to see his superior defensive ability (compared to Martin) lasting much longer.  So defensively it's probably not out of line to suggest they're pretty equal going forward.

It's hard to see which bat Martin could be packaged for, though.  He doesn't have a lot of club control left, so packaging him with other pieces to get somebody like Braun seems a stretch.  JD Martinez?  I don't know the Tigers' organizational depth in CF, so maybe?  McCutcheon seems to make the most sense of those three (which MLBTR cited as viable targets for the M's after the Dyson trade).

Very puzzling trade.  But I hear the M's get $2mil back with Gallardo, so the 2018 option is already a non-factor downside-wise.

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