Before the Seattle Mariners lost out on prized free agent in pitcher/batter Shohei Ohtani, the Mariners acquired all star second baseman Dee Gordon from the Miami Marlins along with $1 million in international money to try to lure Ohtani to Seattle for three prospects in pitchers Nick Neidert and Robert Duggar and infielder Christian Torres. The Mariners intend to play Gordon in centerfield in 2018. Here’s why I think this move could take some time to be successful.
Gordon, when he was first drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 2008, made his name as a shortstop. He worked his way up to majors with his slap hitting and speed. He played a bit at shortstop before making the transition at second base where he earned his big contract playing there. Gordon has played in the infield his whole career. It’s what he knows. The trade to Seattle is a head scratcher considering the have the face of the franchise playing the same position as Gordon in Robinson Cano. So the Mariners are thinking, “Why not, put Gordon in the outfield?”
The Mariners are taking a page out of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ strategy book as they saw one of their former players make his big break in the big leagues this year by transitioning to centerfield. Two years ago, the Mariners traded long time minor league shortstop, Chris Taylor, to the Dodgers for former 1st round pick, pitcher Zach Lee. Taylor, learned how to play the outfield during all of spring training and less than a month into the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City this year before getting called up and sticking around for good. Taylor was such a huge success for the Dodgers that it has the Mariners attempting to try out the same strategy with Gordon.
The difference between Gordon and Taylor is where they are at in their careers and why I think it will take some time for Gordon to find comfort in the outfield. Gordon, 29, had already established himself as an all star second baseman in Miami. He landed his first big contract from the Marlins, signing for five years and earning $50 million back in 2016. He had job security and he fit in well after a couple years as an everyday major leaguer. When Taylor was traded, he was the kind of player that was possibly down to his last chance and was willing to do anything to keep his playing career going. He reinvented himself with LA.
Taylor, 27, is currently on a one-year contract with the Dodgers. Taylor made only $535,000 in 2017. Next year is his last year of being under team control before arbitration begins in 2019. Arbitration is where Taylor would then decide what kind of money he is worth after what kind of season he will have in 2018. If he continues his break out, he will give the Dodgers a number that he’s worth and the Dodgers will counter with their own number that they think he’s worth or they agree on the number that is worthy for both sides. Taylor has something to play for, an opportunity get his first major league contract. Taylor is playing for that job security, he will be doing it again in 2018.
If Gordon can’t adapt to the outfield for Seattle, it is possible that the Mariners could trade him to another team that is need of a second baseman while he still has great value. This is a risk for the Mariners having Gordon in the outfield, but at the same time, it could work out. His bat and speed on the bases will continue to be the same, but his defense in the outfield will need to be worked on, but that is what spring training is for. If Gordon needs motivation to learning and understanding how to play center field, just take a look at what Taylor is doing with Dodgers.
Let us know if you think Gordon has what it takes to captain the outfield by tweeting @TheUtilityMan17 on Twitter!