Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger hit free agency for the first time this month, and he’s an interesting case to think about. When he’s healthy, he’s outstanding — he played 157 games in both 2018 and 2021, and in those two seasons, he combined for 65 homers and an OPS around .830. Of course, those are the only two seasons in his six-year career in which he’s played more than 96 games, with a wide range of injuries hampering him throughout his career.
Still, Haniger has a career OPS+ of 123 and has been, at times in his career, a very good defensive outfielder. So it’s not surprising that the Dodgers, who are in the market for an outfielder, are rumored to be interested.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 21, 2022
Haniger’s career OPS at Angel Stadium is a weird addendum to that tweet. His tOPS+ in Anaheim is 108, meaning his performance there is eight percent better than his overall performance everywhere. It’s something, but just barely, and considering that the Angels are notorious for not having the pitching to get them over the top, it’s probably something I’d chalk up more to “hitting against the Angels” than “hitting at Angel Stadium.”
But I digress. Back to the Dodgers. Haniger’s primary defensive position is right field, and the Dodgers have a six-time Gold Glove winner out there in Mookie Betts, who isn’t moving to second base no matter what anyone tells you. Haniger used to play some center field, but he hasn’t played there since 2019 and he wasn’t particularly good out there when he did play.
But Haniger could certainly slot in as a left-fielder with some time at designated hitter in Los Angeles. MLB Trade Rumors projects him for a three-year, $39 million deal. This feels a lot like the AJ Pollock deal a few years ago, except we all got tricked into thinking Pollock was a center-fielder. With Haniger, there’s a bit more truth in advertising, and he feels like an Andrew Friedman player in a lot of ways.
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