Age: December 23, 1990 (28)
Traditional Stats: .285/.366/.493, 38 2B, 4 3B, 26 HR, 93 RBI, 8 SB
Advanced Stats: 6.1 bWAR, 4.6 fWAR 139 OPS+, 138 wRC+
Defensive Stats: 9 DRS, 1.9 UZR
With the Houston Astros winning 100 games in consecutive seasons, the Athletics coming out of nowhere to make the postseason, and the Angels having a core with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, the Mariners are reportedly looking to tear it all down and start anew.
At the moment, there are conflicting reports about how the Mariners intend to proceed with the rebuild. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports Seattle is looking to “blow things up subject to return.” Mark Feisand of MLB reports the Mariners are “open to moving pretty much anybody on their roster.” Jon Heyman of Fancred offers a slightly different perspective saying the Mariners are looking to hold onto players like Haniger.
Reading the tea leaves, much like Christian Yelich last year, Haniger is available, but you are going to have to pay for him.
The reason why you are going to have to pay is Haniger put up the sixth-best wRC+ among Major League outfielders, and he is under team control through 2023. The fact he put up these stats in a decidedly pitcher’s park like Safeco is all the more impressive. He is also an athletic player who could play all three outfield positions with his best position being right field.
At 28-years-old, the first time All-Star is now in the prime of his career, and it is likely that he is the best right-handed hitting outfielder available this offseason. Like with Yelich last season, whoever obtains Haniger may very well find themselves getting a difference maker in the lineup.
Why the Mets Should Obtain Him
Realistically speaking, the Mets are not likely going to pursue or obtain difference-making players like Manny Machado in free agency. If the Mets are unable to obtain a free agent on the level of a Machado or even an A.J. Pollock, it is difficult to see the Mets getting that impact right-handed bat to balance out the lineup featuring big left-handed hitters like Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto.
If that is truly the case, the best route is the trade route, and Haniger is the best available. Moreover, with him under team control, he is going to be very cheap for the level of production he can provide the Mets. This would free up money to address other important areas like catcher or the bullpen. It could also free up some money to permit the Mets to extend Jacob deGrom.
Why the Mets Should Not Obtain Him
Haniger is not going to come cheap. Right off the bat, you are talking about giving up players like Peter Alonso and Andres Gimenez. After all this time spent rebuilding the farm system, the organization will find itself without much high-end talent remaining to either swing another deal or call-up in case of an injury to an important player on their roster, which is something which happens multiple times a year.
The other issue with Haniger is it is going to weaken the outfield defense. Assuming you can swing the trade without including Nimmo, which the Mets shouldn’t do if they are looking to contend next year, the team is forcing one of their three outfielders to center. While Conforto, Haniger, and Nimmo are capable of playing center, they are not particularly good there. Considering how the Mets really need to stop sacrificing defense, you can argue Haniger is not the right move.
If the Mets want to contend next year, Haniger is the guy. He’s under team control for four more years, and he’s already an All-Star caliber player. While you would normally be concerned about how a player would hit in Citi Field, Haniger doesn’t truly carry this risk as he hit in Safeco. Much like with the Brewers obtaining Yelich last year, Haniger could be that game-changing acquisition which completely alters the outlook of your team.
Getting rid of prospects like Alonso and Gimenez will hurt, but that pain should be mitigated by getting a real difference maker who makes the lineup deeper and more potent.