Here’s Why Mitch Hanegger Is Returning To The Sailors Or Leaving This Season


With a black eye still on his face and wet sweat stains on his shirt from Losing 18 games last weekend Ending the Mariners’ season sooner than they expected, quarterback Mitch Hanegger is beginning to realize that this may be the end of his time in Seattle.

He stubbornly refused to allow thoughts about his future in baseball to invade his mind during the closing months of the regular season and the first Mariners of more than two decades. Those can wait until the end of the season, when he becomes a free agent.

But after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to the Astros in Game 3 of the MLS series, thoughts filled his mind. The longest-serving player on the Mariners’ roster could be elsewhere next season.

“It’s tough,” Hanniger said after the match. “I’ve definitely tried not to think about it as much as I can for the past couple of months and over the past year. I think I’ve done a really good job with that, not really worried about what’s going to happen in the future and just focus on playing and winning ball games. I’m sure I’ll think In a lot over the next two weeks.

“I hope something good will happen, but we will just have to wait and see. I will just decompress a little and spend some time with my daughter and wife.”

As the players made their way to Haniger, they gave him a long hug and thanked him for what he had given the team and them individually – the veteran presence and leadership, his tireless intensity and his unwavering focus on daily preparation. Emotion began to fill Haniger, piercing his naturally controlled facade.

“He’s the epitome of a professional athlete,” said coach Scott Servier. “He leaves no stone unturned as it will allow him to make the most of his ability. It has been neglected on our team.”

Haniger fought back tears in his conversations with bowler Marco Gonzalez and JB Crawford Shortstop. (Tallest teammates)farewell to first baseman Ty France (another mill like him) and farewell to young players such as defender Julio Rodriguez and surveyor Cal Raleigh, who gave him advice and entrusted him with continuing what he helped build in terms of expectations and how to prepare and play.

“I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to imagine it,” Gonzalez said when asked about Haniger. He may not be a Mariner next season. “He has meant so much to us as a group, organizationally and to me as just a good friend, someone to look up to, someone to inspire me. Day in and day out, I can’t imagine not being here.”

Crawford’s voice became tender, and he resisted emotion when asked about the possibility of Hanniger’s leaving. Third base captain Kyle Seeger said goodbye after the 2021 season, and losing Hanniger would be just as painful.

“No, I can’t do that,” Crawford said. “I can’t think of it. He’s one of our leaders. I’ve been playing with him for three years, and [he’s] One of my best teammates ever. I pray to see him return next year. I don’t want to think too deeply about it. But I hope he has a big vacation while I see him [at spring training.]”

Raleigh credited Haniger with helping change his approach to the board, to focus on hitting fast balls first and foremost in May when he returned from Triple-A Tacoma.

“Mitch was great,” Raleigh said. “I know personally that he has helped me a lot, his driving and being here have been great. Unfortunately, he hasn’t played all year. It’s unfortunate, but he is great. He has helped me a lot. I really hope we can bring him back next year.”

Although the allure of free agency and potentially a big payday can be highly anticipated for any player, Haniger became attached to the sailors over his six years with them.

“I loved playing here and I hope to keep playing here,” Hanniger said. “I am really impressed with the players here, and I have enjoyed playing, especially in the last few years. I hope to come back in the Mariners uniform.”

But is this realistic?

Well, yes and no.

The day after the World Championships ends, Haniger will become a free agent “XX (B)” – a player with at least six years of service time in the Major League and no contract for the upcoming season.

Under a collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball, the Mariners could make a qualifying bid for Hanniger because he was on their roster for the entire 2022 season.

The eligible offer is a one-year contract for a salary that represents the median salary of the 125 highest-paid players in MLB.

A year ago, the salary for a qualifying bid was $18.4 million. Of the 13 players who received the offer, only one – Giants first-team player Brandon Bilt – accepted it.

The salary of a player who receives a qualifying offer will be $19.65 million for 2023. It is the highest salary for a qualifying offer since the system was activated in 2011.

That would represent a significant increase for Hanniger, who was paid $7.75 million in 2022 in his final year of refereeing. The $19.65 million is more than the combined $14.87 million he made over six seasons in Seattle.

If a player declines a qualifying offer and chooses free agency, his team will receive a compensatory selection in the MLB Draft 2023. This draft selection position depends on the financial commitment of the player’s free agent contract and if his former team receives revenue sharing from or pays the MLB’s Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) .

Since sailors do not pay CBT, they will receive a compensatory selection, which will be determined based on Haniger’s compensation with a new team.

Marking a qualifying bid can be prohibitive for a player, because any team he signs with will lose at least one and possibly two picks based on his total pay and the number of picks in the upcoming draft.

The possibility of having a selection of the top 150 picks for the 2023 draft is certainly enough motivation for the sailors to make Haniger a qualifying show.

They have five days after the World Championships to extend that offer.

It seems very likely that Haniger will accept the offer and return for another season. He would allow another run in the postseason where he feels comfortable. This will give him a chance for a recovery season to re-prove the value of his free agent. He played in just 57 games in 2022, posting 246/.308/.429 slashes with 11 players and 34 RBI. He missed some time on the COVID-19 list and suffered a sprained ankle in his first match that kept him out of action for three and a half months. Haniger hit .253 with 39 Homers and 100 RBI in 157 games in 2021.

Haniger will have up to 10 days after the World Championships to accept or decline a qualifying offer.

Sailors can also offer to Haniger or sign a multi-year contract before this deadline. Would a three-year contract of $10 million to $12 million per year with a fourth option suffice?

Haniger’s injury history, which included missing Most of 2019 and all of the 2020 season briefAnd his age – turning 32 next season – will be a major concern for Seattle.

To be fair, the time lost in 2019 and 2020 was due to a luck injury — a wrong tip in the groin area — that led to multiple surgeries and lost time. Haniger also believes that his obsessive work off-season and on a daily basis will help him make up for any age-related decline.

“I always hear that players start to decline after the age of 31-32, but that is a number that depends on all players,” he said. “It doesn’t take into account how much I train and lift, how much I take care of my body, how I sleep, what I eat. I won’t go out every night. I train and prepare every day like I want to play until I’m 40.”

It is noticeable.

“You look at everything he does in the off-season and how he prepares every day, it sure can be one of the outliers to slow the downward trend and be very productive for the next few years,” said one NL professional scout.

The Mariners command offered diplomatic answers but did not provide answers to its plans surrounding Hanniger.

“I think everyone would like to see us find a way to find common ground with Mitch,” Mariners general manager Justin Hollander said Wednesday at a press conference. “Players work a long time to get into free agency, and it’s really hard to get six years of service to get there. And I know that Mitch, as much as he wants to be here, also wants to gauge what’s out there. So we’ll keep talking. I think that’s the best answer I can give you. Because we love what he brings to the table.”

Jerry DePoto, Mariners president of baseball operations, was asked about it on KJR-FM (93.3) that afternoon.

“I don’t know,” he said, “that’s a two-way street.” “We will keep the speech flowing with Mitch. We loved having him here with the Sailors, he did a lot of positive things for us, especially in 2018 and 2021. Nobody questioned Mitch’s willingness and care. He is an influential player when he is healthy and on the field. Obviously we are. We’ll be interested in getting that, but it’s a two-way street, and we have to have those conversations as the season begins.”


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