The Seattle Mariners have been extremely active on the trade market this offseason, but that does not mean they are going to start giving away their top players for pennies on the dollar.
In an appearance on MLB Network Radio Thursday, Mariners assistant general manager Justin Hollander said it is highly unlikely that the team will trade outfielder Mitch Haniger. Hollander stopped short of ruling it out altogether, but he said the Mariners would need “an insane return” to deal Haniger.
Haniger had a career year as a full-time starter last year, as he hit .285 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI. It’s probably safe to assume many teams have called Seattle asking about the 27-year-old, but he’s under team control through 2022. If the Mariners think his production in 2018 is a sign of what’s to come, it makes sense to build around him.
The Mariners have already traded Robinson Cano, Jean Segura, Edwin Diaz and Carlos Santana this offseason. GM Jerry Dipoto was taunted by fans a bit after he said the team will probably be quiet going forward, but perhaps the fire sale has come to a close.
The Major League Baseball All-Star Game is a neat event for a lot of reasons. It is an opportunity to see the best baseball has to offer all on the same field. Matchups of star vs. star are commonplace on the evening.
There’s more to it than that, though. The All-Star Game is an opportunity for lesser-known players who might not have tons of national publicity to make an impression and show their stuff on a big stage. Since every team gets a representative, nobody gets left out, and fans are exposed to players that might not be otherwise.
Here are ten lesser-known MLB players who deserve to be All-Stars in 2018.
1) Aaron Nola, Phillies
Nola’s success isn’t necessarily a surprise. He’s a seventh overall pick who has been touted for stardom since he entered professional baseball, and he has fulfilled that potential. He has a 2.41 ERA in 18 starts, a WHIP barely above one, and 116 strikeouts in 116 innings pitched. On a staff featuring Jake Arrieta, it’s Nola who can claim the mantle of ace.
For most teams, we’re a quarter of the way through the Major League Baseball season, and right about at the point that teams can begin assessing what their prospects are. It’s also a point where we can review performances to date and look at who’s struggling and who’s starring for each team. Here, we’re going to be focusing on the players who have led their teams, no matter how the club is doing in the grand scheme of things.
Here is the best player for each MLB team so far in 2018.
Arizona Diamondbacks — A.J. Pollock, OF
A couple of pitchers have a case here, but in a year where the Arizona offense has been surprisingly underwhelming, Pollock has carried them. The outfielder is hitting .293 with 11 home runs and 10 doubles, easily pacing the team in OPS. Unfortunately he is expected to miss 4-8 weeks with a thumb injury, because he was working on a potential MVP season before that.
If the Seattle Mariners are going to turn things around in the early going this season, they’ll have to do it without two of their top players.
The Mariners announced on Friday that pitcher Felix Hernandez and outfielder Mitch Haniger are expected to miss 3-4 weeks with injuries:
Haniger was one of the hottest hitters to start the season but strained his oblique during an at-bat against the Tigers on Tuesday. He is on the DL, currently sporting a 1.054 OPS thanks in part to his 7 doubles and 4 home runs in 79 at-bats.
Hernandez was pitching for the Mariners in that Tuesday game against Detroit but struggled early and was quickly replaced. His manager said he was going through a “dead arm” phase, which has now been diagnosed as shoulder bursitis. Hernandez is 2-2 with a 4.72 ERA this season.
Mariners breakout star Mitch Haniger encountered some bad luck on Tuesday.
The Seattle outfielder suffered a strained oblique during his team’s game against the Detroit Tigers. He appeared to hurt himself on a swing that produced a single in the third, as he was lifted for a pinch runner.
Haniger had been one of the most productive players in baseball prior to his injury. He was 2-for-2 on Tuesday and is hitting .338/.442/.600 this season. He has hit seven doubles and four home runs.
There is no word yet on how much time Haniger could miss, but the Tacoma News Tribune’s Bob Dutton notes that strained obliques typically sideline players for a while.
The Mariners entered Tuesday’s game 8-12 and last place in the AL West. Losing their most productive player probably won’t help their effort to turn things around.
There are some pretty standard names if you look near the top of the MLB statistical leaderboards two weeks into the season. Bryce Harper, Ryan Braun, Francisco Lindor, and Freddie Freeman are all pretty big stars who have gotten off to good starts.
However, there are a few other names on that list who, at first glance, don’t seem to belong in the same category as those star players. The numbers don’t lie, though.
These five players may not have big names, but they’ve definitely been among the most successful players early on in 2017. Here’s a look at five surprise players who have gotten off to great starts this season.
5) Zack Cozart, SS, Reds
Cozart is a seven-year big league veteran with a reputation as a light hitter and a solid defender. His career batting average through 2016 stood at .246, and his lifetime on-base percentage is below .300. He’s there as a solid, steady presence, particularly in the field.
So imagine how surprised the Cincinnati Reds must be to find Cozart leading the National League in hitting in mid-April.
The shortstop is off to a 16-for-37 start, good for a .432 average, and his .488 OBP is also a league best. Cozart also has a remarkable three triples, which paces the league and gives him a slugging percentage of .730. Six of his 16 hits have been for extra bases, in fact. None of it has translated to a lot of runs scored or RBIs — this is a guy who’s populating the part of the lineup generally reserved for pitchers and weak-hitting regulars — but the Reds must be pleasantly shocked by Cozart’s success at the plate.
4) Mitch Haniger, OF, Mariners