There’s no more clear of a need for the Seattle Mariners this offseason than offensive help. The idea has been floated, though, that the way to get that help is by adding more pitching.
Follow that? OK, let’s do a quick breakdown.
Seattle Mariners trade with Red Sox for infielder Luis Urías
The thought process is that this class of free agents is low on well-known hitters, and the Mariners don’t have much of a recent history in signing impact bats anyways. What may be Seattle’s best asset, though, is its group of young, impressive starting pitchers. So if the Mariners this offseason were able to sign a front-line pitcher, which they have had success with in recent years, it would allow them to use one of their younger arms in a trade for a big name to help the lineup.
MLB Network insider Jon Morosi has just the pitcher to get that scenario rolling, too: Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a Japanese star who will be posted Tuesday by Nippon Professional Baseball’s Orix Blue Wave as available to MLB teams for a 45-day period.
“I think that he is, in a lot of respects, the most intriguing free-agent pitcher out there,” Morosi said Monday during his weekly conversation with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob. “… I actually think that there is a better chance the Mariners find a way to get Yamamoto, and then as a next domino effect trade a pitcher for a bat, than it would be to go out there and sign (Shohei) Ohtani right now. I think that’s in a lot of ways the higher percentage play.”
Doubt has been cast since last week on the Mariners making a serious run at Ohtani, the 2023 American League MVP, with MLB.com Mariners reporter Daniel Kramer writing: “Industry sources familiar with the club’s thinking told MLB.com this week that landing Ohtani doesn’t appear to be within the Mariners’ realistic agenda this offseason.”
Yamamoto, on the other hand, could be a realistic fit for Seattle, which may then lead to the team building a trade package around a pitcher like Logan Gilbert, Bryce Miller or Bryan Woo to get an available slugger on a short-term deal like Mets first baseman Pete Alonso or Padres outfielder Juan Soto.
Morosi: Factors to watch in potential Mariners trade for Juan Soto
“There’s a lot of pitching out there, whether it’s Yamamoto or others, even whether it’s (2023 National League Cy Young Award winner Blake) Snell or Eduardo Rodríguez – go down the list, Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery,” Morosi said. “You sign one of those pitchers, then that allows you to have the capital – whether it’s Bryce Miller or Bryan Woo – to then turn around and trade for a bat. And I’m not saying that you would necessarily give up one of those guys for a rental, which is what Alonso would be and Juan Soto would be.
“I just think that you have to fish where the fish are, so to speak, and right now they are in the realm of starting pitching. So get your guy, upgrade your pitching, and then take a second look at the chessboard here – who you could trade, where the opportunities are? – and then make the move from there.”
Who is Yoshinobu Yamamoto?
If the Mariners would able to score Yamamoto, it would be an acquisition worth getting excited about. He stood out on the World Baseball Classic champion Japan team last spring, going 1-0 in two starts with 12 strikeouts to two walks, allowing two earned runs on four hits over 7 1/3 innings. And in NPB play he’s been especially dominant, winning the Sawamura Award – the NPB’s version of the Cy Young – in each of the last three seasons.
In 2023, Yamamoto went 16-6 with a 1.21 ERA, 0.884 WHIP, 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings, and a 6.04 strikeouts to walk ratio for the Blue Wave, who were Mariners great Ichiro Suzuki’s team when he played in Japan. Additionally, he allowed just two home runs in 23 starts, and the year prior he gave up just two homers in 24 starts.
“He’s a high-end pitcher with a really devastating forkball breaking pitch – a splitter, effectively, similar somewhat to what (Mets All-Star Kodai) Senga throws,” Morosi said. “So a lot of excitement. A lot of different (MLB) GMs actually went over to watch him pitch in person this year, which doesn’t always happen. Brian Cashman of the Yankees happened to be there on the day that he threw a no-hitter. So there’s just a lot of really cool enthusiasm for Yamamoto right now.”
Senga, a fellow right-hander who made the jump from Japan to join the Mets last offseason, is a logical comparison for the 5-foot-10, 176-pound Yamamoto. The latter pitcher may be better, though.
“We just saw Kodai Senga come over this year, and he was an NL Rookie of the Year top candidate. Basically Yamamoto has been described to me as being a tick better than him,” Morosi said. “So we’re talking about he’ll walk in here likely and be one of the top pitchers in the league in his first season. There are some who believe that his immediate Year 1 impact could approximate what Yu Darvish did when he first came over, so we’re talking about a star. … There are people in the industry who look at what Yamamoto can do on the mound and are frankly as excited about him (as a free agent this year as Ohtani) just immediately because of the need for pitching and their belief that his pitching will work right away.”
There’s one more thing that makes Yamamoto especially intriguing: his age. While Senga debuted in the big leagues at 30 years old this year, Yamamoto just turned 25. As Morosi explained, it’s rare for teams to get a crack at signing a pitcher with his level of talent at that young of an age.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in the world who’s in his mid-20s. And the unique thing is that pitchers who are in their mid-20s very rarely hit free agency domestically here in the US because they’re either still getting their way through the arbitration system – especially if they went to college – or their team has already signed them up long-term,” Morosi said. “It doesn’t quite work that same way in Japan, so it’s a unique opportunity.
“His pitch-making ability, performance are all very good. It’s hard to say that he’s better than the Cy Young winner in Blake Snell, or Sonny Gray or Aaron Nola, but it’s the age that he is that people are really intrigued by, and they believe that he’s got a pitch mix that’s going to work in Major League Baseball for a long time.”
Free agency has been slow going thus far, but Yamamoto’s 45-day posting that begins Tuesday has the potential to jump start at least the pitching market.
“It doesn’t have to take 45 days – that’s the really key thing,” Morosi said. “They could wrap that up in a matter of 10 or 12 days, and I think a lot of people around the industry hope that that happens because once he goes off the board, then the rest of the pitching market will likely follow.”
Listen to the full Wyman and Bob conversation with MLB Network insider Jon Morosi in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.
More on the Seattle Mariners
• Morosi: How Mariners can improve lineup without Ohtani
• Can Mariners keep up in AL West? The Athletic’s Keith Law weighs in
• Drayer: Seattle Mariners close to adding Brant Brown to coaching staff
Seattle police respond after 4 men allegedly shoot 2 young men in legs
SEATTLE — Seattle police responded to South Seattle after getting reports of a shooting.
According to the Seattle Police Department, around 5 p.m., two men in their teens or early 20s were shot in the legs.
The shooting happened in the 9400 block of Rainier Ave South.
Both men were taken to Harborview in serious but stable condition.
Witnesses told police they saw four men allegedly shooting from the sunroof of a blue sedan.
After the shooting, the men fled in the sedan.
The men have not been found.
©2023 Cox Media Group
CRIME WATCH FOLLOWUP: Guilty plea for man charged in West Seattle postal-truck thefts and other mail-related crimes
(Images from charging documents, suspect at West Seattle Target allegedly using stolen card)
Last spring, we reported on the arrest and indictment of Johny Mixaboua, in connection with nine federal felonies including two USPS mail-truck thefts in West Seattle in one day last January (3000 block of Beach Drive SW and 3600 block of 57th SW). Evidence used against Mixayboua included home security-camera video from the neighborhood where one of the vehicles was later found, plus store security video showing him using stolen cards (including at West Seattle Target). According to today’s announcement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, Mixayboua pleaded guilty to “theft of government property, mail theft, illegal transactions on access devices, and illegally possessing a firearm.” (He was already a convicted felon, and a gun was found when he was arrested, authorities say.) The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the charges to which he pleaded guilty carry potential penalties of up to 15 years in prison. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones is scheduled to sentence him on March 8th; Mixayboua remains in the SeaTac Federal Detention Center.
Weaving Cultural and Travel Ties into Airport Art Installation
Starting in 2026, travelers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) can experience Native artist Crystal Worl’s work both inside the airport and on the airfield.
Worl and fellow artist Fumi Amano were selected to create public art installations for SEA Airport’s C Concourse Expansion project as part of a first-of-its-kind residency partnership between the airport and two iconic glass art entities — Pilchuck Glass School and the Museum of Glass. The Pilchuck residency allows artists to brainstorm ideas; the Museum of Glass residency helps them produce these ideas into a final product for display at the airport.
And earlier this year, Alaska Airlines debuted an aircraft featuring Worl’s design, titled: Xáat Kwáani (Salmon People). It’s the first aircraft in the history of any domestic airline to be named in an Alaska Native language and to depict the ancestral importance through Northwest Coast indigenous formline art, which is characterized by curving lines and shapes and dates back thousands of years.
This summer, Worl completed her two-week residency at Pilchuck, and will complete a second five-day residency at the Museum of Glass, likely in 2024. Her finished piece will be on display at the airport in 2026 with the opening of the new C Concourse.
Indigenous and travel connections
Worl’s connection to her Native heritage threads itself through much of her work. Worl is Athabascan, Filipino, and Tlingit from Raven moiety, Sockeye Clan, from the Raven House. She is Deg Hit’an Athabascan from Fairbanks Alaska and currently lives in Juneau, Alaska. Her work is diverse, ranging from Tlingit Northwest Coast design to contemporary multimedia pieces.
Worl’s plans for her C Concourse piece reflect her love for travel and the time she spent at SEA as a child on her way to visit family and looking at the art on display. As an international gateway and a gateway to Alaska, SEA is the perfect venue for Worl to express that passion.
“I travel a lot. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always been curious about traveling and exploring. Maybe it’s the Athabascan in me. We migrated a lot; we’re nomadic people. So maybe it’s just in my DNA to be curious. And I remember thinking from a young age, I want to be an artist, but I want to travel the world, and how do I do both? How do I take my art around the world? Or maybe my art could take me around the world?”
Worl has used art to fuel her passion for travel, building residencies where she can live abroad for months at a time. She makes the most of each trip, bringing a little portable artist studio in her suitcase and seeking out other artists in the communities she visits.
Inspired by heritage
Worl also attributes her artistic inspiration to the creative community she grew up around and the blend of a traditional and modern upbringing. She participated in potlatches, ceremonies, and gatherings to connect with heritage, while attending school to study and follow her passions. Her family emphasized the importance of learning modern tools so she could become a better community member.
Her mom showed her how to bead, her grandmother taught her how to sew, and her family made their own regalia, which represents family and clan.
“Growing up with that upbringing is just normal for me, but the more I started traveling, as I got older and started going to school, the more I realized that was very special and very unique. And people are very fascinated by it. Native art can be respected and embraced, and it’s beautiful and it should be shared, but in a respectful manner. And so having this opportunity and this platform as an indigenous artist is really cool.”
Her work bridges multiple worlds — the indigenous artist community that practices formline design and the glass artist community. “It’s challenging because glass makers don’t necessarily understand what formline is unless they are a Native artist. It’s a fun challenge. It’s really making me scratch my brain.”
License to explore
During Worl’s Pilchuck residency, she found herself inspired by the passionate and boundary-pushing community of artists. This was her second time at the Pacific Northwest glass school; she first studied at Pilchuck 10 years ago.
“It’s cool to be in a small, isolated but beautiful community that’s just a bunch of artists. We’re all nerding out over creating pieces in new ways. I feel like I’m like Alice in Wonderland, and everyone’s telling me to come down this rabbit hole.”
The residency partnership is designed to allow the artists to explore before they land on a concept for the airport commission. This gave Worl full permission to explore during her residency. With the assistance of her assistant Priscilla Lowe, she spent the first week mapping out her vision for the sculpture; she envisioned a grid of colorful gummy bear shapes formed from glass.
“This residency at Pilchuck Glass School has been really incredible and amazing because not only has it returned me to dip my toe in glass, but it’s reminded me of the expansive and talented community that works in glass.”
As a multidisciplinary artist with a goal to make the installation predominantly in glass, Worl needed an opportunity like this to help expand her understanding of glass.
“We’ve been trying to create a frog out of glass in every possible way we could come up with; I think we have five or six frogs now,” she said. “They don’t all look like frogs yet, but the idea is there. And it’s really cool to work with the gaffers (specialized glass artists) because there are so many things I can’t do with glass, but then for everything I can’t do, I learned there are a million other ways that I can do it. So it’s challenging me to think outside of the box. I’m uncomfortable and it’s good for me.”
A vision for the new C Concourse
Worl said she is also inspired by the design renderings for the C Concourse Expansion and the beautiful, light-filled space it will become.
“There’s a space for sitting and hanging out next to the wall that will have my art. The piece will have high visibility and see a lot of foot traffic. It’s a route towards the restrooms and also by the elevator. So it’s going to be seen a lot, and that’s really exciting.”
Worl is also co-owner of an Indigenous graphic design and art gift shop called Trickster Company with her brother Rico.
Top photo credit: Gabe Re @gabere
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