Seattle Mariners: Grading GM Jack Zduriencik's Offseason Moves Thus Far

David A. Cucchiara@@cucch22Correspondent IJanuary 24, 2013

Seattle Mariners: Grading GM Jack Zduriencik's Offseason Moves Thus Far

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    Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik's offseason approach could be defined as quiet, but he did make the right moves this winter when opportunities arose.

    He was tasked with the challenge of fixing a weak offense so that the team would be able to compete in a division that features the Oakland Athletics, the Los Angeles Angels and the Texas Rangers.

    The Mariners ended the season with a disappointing 75-87 record and 18 games out of a playoff spot.

    So, what’s in store for the new-look 2013 Mariners?

    Here are the grades for GM Jack Zduriencik’s offseason moves thus far.

Acquiring 2B/SS Robert Andino

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    Grade: B

    In November, the Baltimore Orioles traded second baseman Robert Andino to the Seattle Mariners for outfielder Trayvon Robinson in a move that could benefit both organizations in 2013.

    Andino, 28, was one of the hottest hitters in baseball in the month of April last year, batting .311 in 74 at-bats. He tapered off in May and then experienced a sharp drop-off in numbers for the remainder of the season.

    With the Mariners’ outfield already in check, Trayvon Robinson was a necessary loss for Seattle.

    The gaping hole in the infield is at shortstop, where the slick-fielding Brendan Ryan has been virtually nonexistent with the bat during his stint in Seattle.

    Andino will likely begin 2013 on the bench, but he will get a quick promotion to a starting job once they team realizes that Ryan can't hit above the Mendoza Line.

    Overall, I feel like Seattle could have done a better job of upgrading at shortstop, however, Andino is a definite improvement over the offensively-inept Ryan.

Re-Signing Oliver Perez

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    Grade: B-

    The Mariners re-signed pitcher Oliver Perez to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million with a $600,000 performance bonus.

    This could be a very hit-or-miss deal for the Mariners heading into 2013.

    Perez, who pitched nicely in a relief role last season, has really struggled in the starting role over the last five years.

    The 31-year-old left-hander will be another decent reliever from a bullpen that posted a 3.39 ERA last season.

    This move will either pay dividends early, or doom a team that needs to preserve as many sixth, seventh and eighth inning leads as possible.

Re-Signing Jesus Sucre

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    Grade: B

    The re-signing of catcher Jesus Sucre is a small move that makes sense for a franchise with multiple guys competing for the backup behind Jesus Montero.

    Sucre will be given the opportunity to showcase his talent during spring training, where he will try to earn a spot on the roster for the 2013 season.

    Sucre has been an excellent defensive catcher over his minor league career and has fared well with the bat, hitting .271 with 30 RBI for Double-A Jackson last season.

    They’ll also need to replace catcher John Jaso, who they lost when they traded for Michael Morse trade.

    This move makes sense, and Sucre, pending a decent Spring Training, will make the roster as the backup catcher in 2013.

Signing Jason Bay

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    Grade: A+

    The Mariners signed Jason Bay to a $500,000 deal that included a $500,000 bonus incentive if he makes the team out of spring training. The 34-year-old outfielder can also earn up to $2 million in other incentives over the course of the season as well.

    I love this move by the Mariners for a few reasons. The first reason being that Jason Bay is coming home, just a seven hour drive from his hometown of Trail, British Columbia and a four hour drive from his college, Gonzaga University. Bay will now be playing in a fan-friendly environment.

    Another reason that this is a beneficial move for the Mariners is because of how the contract is structured. Bay’s contract is mostly incentive-based, putting the Mariners at virtually no financial risk.

    Bay will also be working with hitting coach Dave Hansen to refurbish his swing, which only managed to produce 32 hits in 215 at bats last season.

    In the end, this was an excellent move for the Mariners.

Acquiring Kendrys Morales

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    Grade: A-

    The Mariners traded starter Jason Vargas to the Angels for first baseman Kendrys Morales last month.

    While the Mariners did lose a No. 2 starter in their rotation, this is a team that desperately needed offense after ranked 27th in the league in terms of runs scored last season.

    Signing Morales addresses their offensive concern and he is a great addition to the roster.

    Morales will be splitting time with Justin Smoak at first base, and he will get most of his at bats as a designated hitter in 2013.

Signing Jeremy Bonderman

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    Grade: D

    The Mariners signed Jeremy Bonderman to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training last month.

    Bonderman has experienced nagging shoulder injuries over his career, and he received Tommy John surgery last April.

    Seattle is giving Bonderman the opportunity to revitalize his career through his spring training performance and earn a spot on the roster. I commend Seattle for giving him another chance, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    The 30-year-old Bonderman is extremely prone to injury and, even when healthy, he just hasn’t been good over his career.

    His best season came in 2006 where he went 14-8 with a 4.08 ERA. Bonderman has never posted an ERA under four in his career.

Signing Raul Ibanez

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    Grade: B

    Yankee’s playoff hero Raul Ibanez will be returning to Seattle on a one-year, $2.75 million deal with $1.25 million in performances bonuses.

    The move gives Seattle more depth off the bench with another powerful left-handed bat.

    If there’s any downside to this move, its age. Ibanez turns 41 in June and, like most players, his numbers have been on a steady decline over the last decade.

    That being said, the Mariners need as much offense as they can get, and Ibanez definitely fills that void.

    Expect Ibanez to hit around .230 off the bench with a few clutch hits here and there.

Signing Mike Jacobs

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    Grade: C

    The Mariners signed first baseman Mike Jacobs to a minor league deal this month and offered him an invitation to spring training.

    This is a decent move, statistically speaking, but Jacobs will have to compete with Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales, and Mike Carp for a shot at even obtaining a bench spot in 2013.

    Frankly, I don’t understand the move. Jacobs is 32-years-old and hasn’t had a full major league season since 2009 with the Royals.

    Don’t expect Jacobs to make the Opening Day roster due to the amount of power-hitting left-handed bats already on Seattle’s roster.

Acquiring Michael Morse

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    Grade: A

    In a three-way trade, the Mariners sent catcher John Jaso to Oakland and received Nationals’ left-fielder Michael More in return.

    Morse began his career with Seattle in 2005, where he had a decent rookie season in which he batted .278 with 23 RBI in 258 at-bats. Now, Morse is a valuable asset in the outfield, coming off a season where he batted .291 with 18 home runs and 62 RBI.

    With Jaso exiting Seattle, Jesus Montero will likely take over everyday catching duties.

    The Mariners got exactly what they wanted out of this deal in an offensively stable left fielder.

    Expect Morse to hit right around .300 and sit around fifth or sixth in the lineup behind Montero and Morales.

Overall: B

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    The Mariners have done a pretty decent job in fixing a troubled offense this offseason, but questions regarding pitching still remain.

    Losing Vargas in the Morales deal depleted what was an above-average rotation last season. After ace Felix Hernandez, the Mariners are left with Hisashi Iwakuma, Blake Beavan, Erasmo Ramirez and Hector Noesi, who are all questions marks heading into next season.

    The Mariners should look to add another bat, preferably a .300-plus hitter, as well as another arm in the rotation to replace Vargas.

    Overall, this has been a pretty good offseason for the Mariners. With a few more moves, they could easily propel themselves into contention.