Mitch Haniger decision gets tougher as Mariners face Angels

National Sports

With the trade deadline approaching on July 30, Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto needs to make a decision on outfielder Mitch Haniger.

The Mariners and Haniger are making that choice tougher by the day.

Haniger went 3-for-5 with a double, home run and two RBIs Friday night as the Mariners defeated the host Los Angeles Angels 6-5. The Mariners improved to 49-43 and are 3 1/2 games out of a playoff spot entering Saturday night’s game in Anaheim, Calif.

Haniger, 30, who missed all of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and played in only 63 games in 2019 because of injuries, is batting .265 and leads the Mariners with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs.

He is signed through 2022, which means he might fetch a good prospect on the trade market. And with reigning American League Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis and top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez, the Mariners’ outfield of the future seems set.

Will the Mariners be buyers or sellers at the deadline? Or both?

“We will always weigh the present with the future,” Dipoto said this week. “And the present means something to us — it does. This team is playing incredibly well. And if we have the ability to help the team in the short term, we will.”

Trading Haniger wouldn’t be a popular move in the clubhouse.

“I think that would hurt us,” Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford said. “It would be excruciating. That would suck. We need Mitch. He is one of our leaders. He comes in, and a lot of our outfielders look up to him the most. We need him on our team.”

The Mariners took two of three games from the Angels in Seattle entering the All-Star break and held off a late rally Friday as Los Angeles scored three runs in the ninth — two on a two-out, line-drive single by Shohei Ohtani.

“Of course you want to win, but I loved every second of our effort,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Your team plays like that every night, you’re going to win a lot of games.”

Right-hander Alex Cobb (6-3, 4.23 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Angels on Saturday. He’s allowed just one earned run in 13 innings over his past two starts.

Cobb, who is 4-4 with a 5.83 ERA In 11 career starts against Seattle, will face the Mariners for the third time this season. Despite allowing five earned runs on three hits in seven innings June 5 in Anaheim, he posted the win in his team’s 12-5 victory. He gave up two unearned runs in 5 1/3 innings July 9 at Seattle and didn’t get a decision in a 7-3 loss.

The Mariners are set to counter with left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (6-4, 3.48), their All-Star representative. Kikuchi didn’t get a decision in that June 5 Mariners’ loss. He’s 1-3 with a 10.58 ERA in six career starts against the Angels.

Los Angeles’ David Fletcher went 3-for-5 Friday to extend his hitting streak to 25 games, tied for the second-longest in franchise history with Rod Carew.

Garret Anderson has the longest hitting streak in Angels’ history, 28 games in 1998.

–Field Level Media

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