The Mariners have placed third baseman Eugenio Suarez on the 10-day injured list due to a fracture in the tip of his right index finger, manager Scott Servais told reporters, via The Athletic’s Corey Brock, The Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish and MLB.com’s Daniel Kramer. Utilityman Dylan Moore has been activated from the 10-day IL to take Suarez’s roster spot, with Moore returning after about three weeks missed due to an oblique strain.
More will likely be known about Suarez’s timeline after he visits a specialist on Monday, but for now, there is optimism that the fracture is minor enough that he’ll be able to return before the regular season is over. However, he might be limited to designated hitter work if he is able to come back, as throwing is the biggest question mark for the right-handed Suarez.
Losing Suarez is a big setback for a Mariners team that has been on a dream run for the last few months, positioning themselves to win a wild card and reach the postseason for the first time since 2001. Beyond just making the playoffs, the M’s were looking to make a deep run into October, yet that will be a lot more difficult if Suarez is limited or perhaps unable to play whatsoever.
After struggling in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Suarez became an expendable piece for the cost-cutting Reds, who dealt Suarez and Jesse Winker to Seattle in March for a package of four younger players. Ironically, Winker was seen as the big get at the time, as Suarez’s inclusion in the deal was largely seen as a contract the Mariners had to absorb in order to pry Winker out of Cincinnati.
As it has turned out, Winker has delivered roughly league-average offense in 2022, while Suarez has bounced back to become one of the Mariners’ top bats. The third baseman has hit .235/.335/.470 with 31 home runs over 594 plate appearances, translating to a 133 OPS+/135 wRC+. Although Suarez has a league-high 183 strikeouts, he has been crushing the ball when he has made contact, and his 12% walk rate is in the 90th percentile of all players. Beyond the offensive production, Suarez has also been something of an unexpected benefit at third base, with positive grades (+1 Outs Above Average, +3 Defensive Runs Saved, +2.1 UZR/150) from several public defensive metrics.
Only 25 position players have a higher fWAR than Suarez’s 4.4 number, making him a difficult player for the Mariners to feasibly replace. If he is able to return as a DH and keep on hitting, the M’s would be more than pleased with that outcome — given how Carlos Santana has been inconsistent as the team’s regular designated hitter, Suarez might even be an upgrade in the role.
Third base is another story, as Moore and Abraham Toro figure to be the top options in the short term. Servais said that Jake Lamb will also get some work at the hot corner, and regular first baseman Ty France also took some grounders at third base on Saturday. France has past experience as a third baseman, but he hasn’t played the position at all this season, and made only 11 appearances at third base in 2020-21.