A series of roster moves made on Friday put the Mariners at 25 for their opening day roster, which won't be official until Sunday morning.
PEORIA, Ariz. — While they won’t officially submit it until Sunday morning, the Mariners have made the final decisions on their 25-man roster for opening day on Monday at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The team announced a slew of roster moves on Friday afternoon to get to their projected 25. They won’t submit the roster to Major League Baseball until just before the 9 a.m. Sunday deadline in case of a freak injury on Friday or Saturday to a player. None of the moves came as a major surprise, particularly with the earlier announcement that left-hander Drew Smyly will be out 6-8 weeks with a flexor strain in his left elbow. The Mariners came into spring with minimal competition with about 75 percent of the roster already in place.
Here’s the projected roster:
Jean Segura, SS
Mitch Haniger, RF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nelson Cruz, DH
Kyle Seager, 3B
Danny Valencia, 1B
Leonys Martin, CF
Mike Zunino, C
Jarrod Dyson, LF
The Mariners lineup has been in place since Daniel Vogelbach was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma over a week ago. Haniger has been brilliant this spring, hitting .389 with a 1.089 on-base plus slugging percentage, 11 doubles, two triples, two homers, 11 RBI and three stolen bases in 22 Cactus League games. Dyson had been bothered by some hamstring issues late in the camp, but appears to be fine. When the Mariners face a right-handed pitcher, there is a chance he could see some time at the top of the order.
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Carlos Ruiz, C
Guillermo Heredia, LF
Taylor Motter, IF/OF
Motter won the utility job after Shawn O’Malley underwent an appendectomy last week. But he was leading the competition, hitting .288 with an .877 OPS, three doubles, three homers and 11 RBI this spring. He’s shown the ability to handle all four infield positions and the corner outfield spots at a high level.
“We are versatile,” manager Scott Servais said. “What Motter brings is the super utility guy that allows us to do that. His ability to play every position on the field is huge. It creates a lot of flexibility. If somebody goes down in there in a certain spot, you can pretty much fire him in there, except pitch or catch. Well, he has pitched in the big leagues. Hopefully we don’t have to use him pitching. He’s a good fit for our club. It allows us to go that way. We don’t have a lot of situations where we will pinch hit. Maybe a pinch run here or there, but not a lot of that either.”
Heredia beat out Ben Gamel for the fourth outfield spot in a contested competition. Heredia had a strong spring, hitting .355 with a .947 OPS, nine doubles, a triple and 10 RBI this spring. He’s also the better defensive outfielder of the two, earning the trust of Servais.
“I think it was the right-handed bat,” Servais said of the deciding factors. “They both had good springs. They both did a nice job in the outfield. We are going to give Dyson the opportunity to play every day, but he hasn’t done it in the big leagues. Heredia earned his way onto the team. I think the adjustments he made with the bat over the offseason. He’s carried it on throughout the entire spring. He got off to just a great start early on, cooled a little bit and came right back here at the end when he was facing good pitching.”
Felix Hernandez, RHP
Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP
James Paxton, LHP
Ariel Miranda, LHP
Yovani Gallardo, RHP
Miranda slides into the No. 4 spot for the injured Smyly. Expect the Mariners to swap Iwakuma and Paxton after the off day on April 13 to split up the two left-handed starting pitchers.
“I like where Felix is at right now,” Servais said. “He’s had a very good spring. Paxton has had a good spring as well. Kuma hasn’t been himself. His last time out, he struggled. But the thing with Kuma is, he has experience and he usually knows how to right the ship. We need to get him back on track. Miranda we’ll give every opportunity to and Gallardo I think, as we start to get more comfortable with these guys and understanding how their stuff works … it’s tough. We knew that coming in here. These are flyball pitchers for the most part and coming in here to Arizona, we knew it would be a challenge for these guys. For me, I was just hoping to get them all out of here healthy. We got close, but didn’t quite get through with all of them healthy. But I like our starting pitching. We’re going to need some guys to step up. It’s about innings and getting deep in games and giving us a chance to win because I think we’re going to score some runs.”
Edwin Diaz, RHP
Dan Altavilla, RHP
Nick Vincent, RHP
Evan Scribner, RHP
Casey Fien, RHP
Marc Rzepczysnki, LHP
James Pazos, LHP
Dillon Overton, LHP
No real surprises with the injury issues the Mariners have dealt with this spring. None of the non-roster relievers invited to big league spring training pitched well enough to force their way on to the roster. Pazos has a big arm with a mid 90s fastball. He’s had command issues in the past, but the Mariners like his stuff and hope he can be a middle relief guy. Overton would be expected to fill the long relief role if needed as a starter for most of his career. He won’t be available for the first three days of the season because his wife is scheduled to have a baby on Tuesday.
“I think we’re more versatile,” Servais said. “We’ve got more left-handed options, which was a struggle for us last year and was something we wanted to address. Rzepczynski, Pazos and even Overton in a little more length role, we’re carrying eight in the bullpen so that gives you a little more flexibility, which is important. Houston is much more balanced this year with left-handed bats they have. So I like that. Diaz is gaining some track record with the success he had last year, so you’re always kind of managing the game to get to the ninth inning. Scribner and Vincent are very capable and Altavilla has really taken a step forward for me. I look back at where we were last year. (Steve) Cishek wasn’t even available the first 3-4 games of the season, (Joaquin) Benoit wasn’t totally healthy, (Joel) Peralta. So we have a much different look to our bullpen. But I like it.”
Here are the roster moves to get to the 25-man projected roster.
Recalled from AAA Tacoma:
Ariel Miranda, LHP
Placed on 10-day DL:
Drew Smyly, LHP (left arm flexor strain)
Steve Cishek, RHP (recovering from surgery to repair left hip labrum tear)
Shae Simmons, RHP (right elbow strain)
Rob Whalen, RHP (right shoulder inflammation)
Tony Zych, RHP (recovering from right shoulder biceps tendon transfer surgery
Shawn O’Malley, IF (recovering from surgery to remove appendix)
Optioned to Class AAA Tacoma:
Ben Gamel, OF
Tuffy Gosewisch, C
Reassigned to Minor League Camp:
Jonathan Aro, RHP
Dean Kiekhefer, LHP
Mike Freeman, IF
Tyler Smith, IF
Nevin Ashley, C
None of the moves come as a major surprise. Gosewisch was ticketed for Triple A when he signed in the offseason. Gamel played well this spring, but Heredia played better.
General manager Jerry Dipoto confirmed the signing of infielder Gordon Beckham to a minor league contract. Beckham was released by the Giants last week at his request. The 30-year-old infielder can play second base and third base and will report to Class AAA Tacoma.
It leaves the Rainiers roster a little crowded with infielders, including Smith, Freeman, Zach Shank and D.J. Peterson. Dipoto noted that the team doesn’t have a true third baseman on the Rainiers with Peterson playing first base in recent years.
“Whether he plays for us in the big leagues, I can’t tell you,” Dipoto said. “He provides us with some general fallback, especially while we wait for Shawn O’Malley. Once Shawn gets back on track, we’ll determine where we go from there.”
Once a touted prospect and first-round pick by the White Sox in 2008, Beckham never quite reached the lofty expectations set for him, posting a career. .240 batting average and .673 OPS.