Dee Gordon joins the Mariners
In an effort to cut salary under their new ownership group led by Derek Jeter, the Miami Marlins have traded All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for prospects Robert Dugger, Nick Neidert and Christopher Torres, as well as $1 million in international signing money. Gordon, 29, is owed $37 million in base salary over the next three seasons, which is likely why the Mariners were looking to move him despite the fact that he led the NL with 60 stolen bases this season. In 2017, Gordon also finished fourth in the NL With 114 runs, 3rd with 9 triples, and 2nd with 201 hits, hitting .308/.341/.375 with 3.1 WAR for the season.
For the Mariners, Gordon should provide them with an instant upgrade atop their lineup, as the Mariners as a team stole 89 bases last season, only 29 more than Gordon did individually. Gordon moving to the top of the lineup should also be a boost in that it allows Jean Segura to move into the number two spot, providing RBI opportunities aplenty for Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, and Kyle Seager.
However, there is one giant caveat to this trade, which is this; the Mariners currently have their own All-Star second baseman in Robinson Cano, so for the first time ever, Dee Gordon will become an outfielder as the Mariners everyday center fielder. Now before you say this is crazy, consider this; Hall of Fame Astro Craig Biggio made the move from second base to center field at the age of 37, so there is some precedent to a move such as this.
Consider this; last year, Mariners center fielders ranked 23rd in the MLB with 1.4 WAR. In total, they hit .238/.303/.334, with 15 HR, 114 runs scored, 63 RBI, and 35 stolen bases. Now compare that to Gordon, who last year hit .308/.341/.375 with 2 HR, 114 runs scored, 60 stolen bases, and 33 RBI. Power numbers aside, as Gordon is known as a contact hitter who uses his speed to get on base, Gordon will represent a significant offensive upgrade for the Mariners in center field this season.
Defensively is where things start to get interesting. Last season, Mariners center fielders had a .983 fielding percentage, with a total of eight errors in 1440.1 innings pitched. At second base in 2017, Gordon had a similar .982 fielding percentage, making 12 errors in 1293.1 innings pitched. Gordon’s ultimate zone rating last season was 6.4; for Mariners center fielders, the mark was -0.2. While it won’t be easy for Gordon to adjust to center field at first, given that he has already made the shift from shortstop to second base in his career, he knows the amount of hard work it will take to learn the new position. Additionally, given Gordon’s straight-line speed ranks among the top five players in the game, his transition could be compared to that of Billy Hamilton, baseball’s fastest player who made the shift from shortstop to center field upon reaching the majors.
While Gordon may have some early headaches in center field, he should be athletic enough to make the transition relatively smooth. Given the offensive upgrades he provides to an already formidable Mariners lineup, this offer was to sweet for Dipoto to pass up, as the Mariners just received one of baseball’s best base stealers and contact hitters in the prime of his career.