The Mariners made a major move to entice Shohei Ohtani to the Emerald City, acquiring Dee Gordon on Thursday from the rebuilding Marlins for three minor leaguers: right-handed pitchers Robert Dugger and Nick Neidert, and infielder Christopher Torres.
Since Seattle already deploys entrenched veteran Robinson Cano at second base, Gordon will move to center field.
Seattle, who also acquired Ryon Healy to play first base last month, now boasts a dangerous offense that’ll likely be topped by Gordon and Jean Segura, giving the M’s two of the better speed demons in the American League.
Gordon led the majors in stolen bases in each of his last three full seasons (2014, 2015, 2017). In that trio of years, Gordon has hit .289 or higher while scoring 88-plus runs and stealing 58-plus bases, the first coming with the Dodgers and the last two with the often offensively challenged Marlins.
The 29-year-old all but erased doubts that his drug-related ban in 2016 would impact his strength and plate work, using his elite speed, top-notch contact rate and groundball-centric spray chart to get back to a .300-plus clip. He never really hit the ball hard anyway, topping out at a 17.6 Fangraphs hard contact rate in 2015, but it was promising to see his base thefts return to past paces.
He should be in fine shape to repeat, though it’d be better for his speed potential if he leads off and Segura slots in at second.
Navigating Safeco Field
Though he’ll lose the talented corps of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich that helped him cross the plate a career-best 114 times in 2017, his new group measures up, if not surpasses, that crew: Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager should keep him afloat in that category, even if he returns to previous levels closer to 90 to 100.
No fantasy player should draft Gordon for power anytime soon, but his transfer from Marlins Park to Safeco Field is mostly a lateral move in park factor.
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While Gordon hasn’t manned the eight as a pro, he has the tools to play it:
Dee Gordon would have been the 4th fastest CF last season
behind Billy Hamilton, Byron Buxton and Bradley Zimmer pic.twitter.com/twmIXWjyuE
— Daren Willman (@darenw) December 7, 2017
It’s OK to give credence to the narrative that learning a new position could corrupt his plate work for stretches — in dire guesses, make him more injury-prone — but it’s not enough to write him off.
Impact on others
If he takes to the position, it’ll be a victory for Mariners pitchers. Though there isn’t really a GB/FB laggard in the rotation (unless you count the injured Hisashi Iwakuma), they may feel more secure in giving up flyballs in their already pitcher-fading digs. An outfield of Gordon, Haniger and Gamel could cover the ocean effectively.
It’s feasible that he could alternate leading off with the right-highting Segura depending on which handedness they’re facing on the mound.
Meanwhile, his cross-country shipment is the first blow in the Marlins’ latest giveaway.
Assuming Giancarlo Stanton is also dealt, this is another fantasy setback for Marcell Ozuna, who will struggle to approach 124 RBI again at this rate.
Though the three-category output may sway many drafters away from an early-rounds investment, speed has become exponentially important for fantasy baseball, so an aggressive purchase of Gordon can be justified with the right strategy to make up for power later on.
His upcoming additional eligibility in the outfield adds another gold star, as well, in the era of the 10-day disabled list that has ravaged so many fantasy rosters.
For more on this deal, read Gordon’s player profile page and other news for the Marlins haul, and check out our Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit, which will be published soon!