The Mariners’ 2020 summer camp is nearing an end. No, there won’t be one last bonfire (there wasn’t a first one) with a goodbye song led by manager Scott Servais on a guitar, thanking all those players for attending.
And there definitely won’t be a final talent show, where Daniel Vogelbach interrupts for one final dance number while yelling, “Nobody puts Vogey in the corner!”
This three-week buildup to the truncated 2020 season might not have been the time of the players’ lives, and they owe it all to the coronavirus pandemic, but the 60 players invited to participate embraced MLB’s safety protocols. Some came to camp knowing they had no shot to make the roster for re-opening day on Friday in Houston. They were young prospects, brought in to salvage some level of development in a season with no minor-league games.
Other young players, key members of the team’s rebuild plan who were supposed to gain a season’s worth of plate appearances or innings pitched, will try to maximize the games they do get to play.
And, of course, established players are just trying to make it through a season unlike any before. Some are looking to show they’re healthy, some are playing for a contract or a possible trade, and others just want to play.
Based on the shortened schedule, and with the rebuild plan still the focus, the Mariners will submit a 30-man roster by 9 a.m. Thursday. In 15 days, they will trim that roster down to 28 players. And 15 days after that, to 26.
Here’s a look at the projected 30-man roster that will be submitted by general manager Jerry Dipoto.
- Marco Gonzales, LHP
- Taijuan Walker, RHP
- Yusei Kikuchi, LHP
- Kendall Graveman, RHP
- Justus Sheffield, LHP
- Justin Dunn, RHP
Notes: The plan for this six-man rotation was established before summer camp became official. The Mariners believed this was the best setup to get innings for their pitchers, but also maintain their health. This projects 10 starts for each pitcher. Don’t be surprised to see “piggybacking” off Sheffield and Dunn’s starts with long relievers scheduled to pitch after — you see this a lot in spring training.
- Dan Altavilla, RHP
- Brandon Brennan, RHP
- Carl Edwards Jr., RHP
- Zac Grotz, RHP
- Matt Magill, RHP
- Yohan Ramirez, RHP
- Taylor Williams, RHP
- Nestor Cortes Jr., LHP
- Nick Margevicius, LHP
- Taylor Guilbeau, LHP
- Anthony Misciewicz, LHP (Must be added to the 40-man roster)
Notes: Servais said the team will start with 11 relievers, but maybe not the 11 you might have predicted. The Mariners are expected to keep veteran right-hander Yoshihisa Hirano on the COVID-19 injured list to start the season. Hirano, who tested positive June 25, recently was cleared to participate in workouts. From a pitching standpoint, he won’t be ready for another week or two. Despite pitching in some intrasquad games, Austin Adams, who is recovering from offseason knee surgery, is expected to start the season on the 10-day injured list. The Mariners want to make sure he’s 100% healthy.
Misciewicz drew praise from Dipoto and Servais this spring. A starter in the minors, his versatility and ability to pitch multiple innings earned him a spot with Margevicius and Cortes. They will be the relievers to piggyback off starters. Seattle is finalizing the signing of veteran right-hander Bryan Shaw, whom the Rockies recently released. If he’s able to clear intake testing in time as expected, he’ll be added to the opening-day roster and likely bump Guilbeau out. Guilbeau or Erik Swanson would seem like candidates for the pitching spot on the three-man taxi squad.
- Tom Murphy
- Austin Nola
Notes: Not much of a surprise here, though Murphy is battling a sore left ankle after fouling a ball off of it early in camp and taking a foul off it while catching a few days later. He’s expected to be fine by opening day. The depth behind those two is a little thin. They must carry a third catcher on the three-man taxi squad that travels with the team. The Mariners don’t plan to use Cal Raleigh, their top catching prospect, in MLB games this season. They do have Joe Hudson, who has played in four MLB games, as an option. But sources indicate Dipoto is looking at the free-agent market to add another experienced catcher to their 60-man player pool to fill that spot.
- J.P. Crawford
- Dee Gordon
- Shed Long Jr.
- Kyle Seager
- Daniel Vogelbach
- Evan White
Notes: Vogelbach isn’t expected to play much first base this season, which is a good thing for everyone involved. But it will be interesting to see if the Mariners use him as the designated hitter against left-handed starting pitchers. He has just two hits and five walks with five strikeouts in 24 plate appearances in summer camp, which the coaching staff and front office have noticed. Servais said he would put both catchers in the lineup on occasion, using Nola or Murphy as the DH. That could mean reduced at-bats for Vogelbach. Gordon probably will play second base once a week, along with shortstop and left field. While that isn’t what he prefers, this might be the best move for his career, possibly increasing his value for a trade this season or free agency next offseason. Crawford and Long have looked inconsistent in the field at times during summer camp. Infield coach Perry Hill’s absence is glaring.
- Kyle Lewis
- Mallex Smith
- Jake Fraley
- Tim Lopes
- Dylan Moore
Notes: Of the projected position groups, this is the least set. Don’t be surprised if Fraley is not on the opening-day roster and Jose Marmolejos, who can play first base and left field, is on there instead as a bench player. It looks like a real possibility. Marmolejos would have to be added to the 40-man roster. The Mariners have raved about his approach at the plate and believe he’s adequate in left field. Fraley struggled in camp. His timing has looked off and he has just two hits, two walks and four strikeouts in 18 plate appearances. They can send him to the alternative training site in Tacoma for a few weeks to work on his swing, his approach and re-find some confidence. Facing the Astros’ staff to start the season while you’re struggling isn’t going to be beneficial.
Having two true outfielders on the roster isn’t ideal, but the Mariners believe they can overcome it by using the combination of Lopes, Moore and Gordon to fill the needs. Lopes has hit his way on to the team, but in terms of defense, he’s less skilled than Moore or Gordon in the infield. He’s worked heavily in left field the last 10 days after playing in 33 games there last season. This could become his primary spot. Moore can play all infield and outfield positions and will fill in as needed. Against tough left-handed starters, the Mariners will likely go with Moore, Lopes and Lewis in the outfield with either Lewis or Moore in center. The Mariners will carry switch-hitting Sam Haggerty, who had a solid camp after an elbow injury hindered him in spring, on the taxi squad.