1. Seattle Mariners
And here we have the Mariners, who hung around at the fringes of last year’s Wild Card race despite a -1945 run differential, which is a slight exaggeration (but only slight).
They’re a fun, young, exciting team with a number of over-performing pieces — and a staunch lack of veteran leadership, especially since they hustled their third baseman, one of those pesky Seagers, out the door.
What is a team like that to do, as it waits for Julio Rodriguez to debut, Jarred Kelenic to develop, and a number of pitching prospects to join Logan Gilbert? Well, directly block the Yankees on two potentially helpful additions, of course!
Rumor has it the M’s will not shy away from pursuing Marcus Semien to fill an infield vacancy. Every indication is they plan to keep JP Crawford at shortstop while also adding a premium free agent infielder. Considering Semien is the most obvious of the big free agents who’d willingly move, and considering he apparently prefers to return to the West Coast, the Mariners are uniquely prepared to take the Yankees’ best stopgap option away.
Adding to the frustration docket, reports emerged on Wednesday morning that, if Reds ace Luis Castillo is made available, the Mariners plan to chase him to front their rotation, too. Every break we’ve taken over the past week from picking Oakland’s carcass has been focused on finding ways to swipe Castillo from the Reds’ fire sale as our No. 2 starter.
If Seattle’s on the prowl, though, they’ll likely be prepared to offer more. Their farm system is superior, and their need is greater.
2021 may have been some form of fluke. Contending in 2022? It’s the goal and the norm. And it all begins at the expense of the Yankees.