One reason I am happy to be back in the US is baseball. I love it, and missed it dearly. While I am almost a full continent away from my beloved Detroit Tigers, I have no qualms about road trips to Seattle. Hell, I like going up there without the promise of baseball, so it makes it that much better.
With me being a resident of the PNW, it’s a bit easier to cover the Mariners, so I did some digging before King Felix throws the first pitch in Houston on April 3. It’s an exciting time for the Mariners, as they are welcoming 18 new players to their 40-man roster. So let’s see what’s changed.
Mariners GM, Jerry Dipoto has made more roster moves than any other GM since he took over in September of 2015. He had a lot to clean up from the previous GM’s tenure, and has done a good job thus far. Here’s the new faces around the clubhouse this season:
- IF: SS Jean Segura; 1B DanVogelbach; C Carlos Ruiz; UT Danny Valencia.
- OF: Jarrod Dyson; RF Mitch Haniger.
- P: SP Drew Smyly; SP Yovani Gallardo; RP Dan Altavilla; RP Marc Rzepczynski.
For the position players no one is an everyday player outside of Segura, although, Haniger could be the everyday RF. Segura is the biggest addition here, after coming off a good 2016 after a disappointing 2014 and 2015. Dyson has speed and plays solid defense, however, he has trouble with hitting Lefties, and will most likely be platooned with Leonys Martin.
Ruiz is nowhere near his All-Star form, however, he should help Mike Zunino who the Mariners are hoping emerges as the clear number one Catcher. Valencia will be platooning with Vogelbach at 1B, and hits Lefties well, so look for him in pinch-hit situations as well. No major changes, as they have a solid lineup already, but these are some good situational additions, and accompaniment for them.
I am happy to see Smyly on the Mariners, for selfish reasons. I feel like he never got a fair shake in Detroit or Tampa, and will have the chance to establish himself in Seattle. He had some HR issues but if he can get that under control he can be a solid #3, or #2 even. Gallardo was a good pick up to eat some innings at the bottom of the rotation.
Altavilla was very impressive for the Mariners Double-A affiliate last season, and impressive in his brief MLB appearance (12 1/3 innings) at the end of last season. He could pitch is way into a regular role. Rzepczynski is a good left-hander for the bullpen, and will be their main go to in that role to start the season.
Some big names exited the club this offseason via trade, and as the saying goes “you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette.” Let’s see who’s no longer a Mariner:
Walker seemed to be the Pitcher of the Future for the last 10 years, and it’s hard to believe he is only 24-years-old. They desperately wanted wanted him to be second punch behind Felix, but he never could find consistency. I am pulling for him in Arizona though. Smith is another big name. He did what they needed him to do, crush Righties, but at $7m for this season, he was added power in a lineup full of it.
Marte never quite came into his own and was included in the Walker trade which returned Segura. Karns was the same, never turned into the SP they wanted so sent him to Kansas City for Dyson. Nuno was dealt for Ruiz, and even though he was their Lefty choice out of the bullpen, Rzepczynski is a seamless transition.
LOOKING TO THE SEASON
I’d be shocked if this was the same team that makes it to the All-Star break. Dipoto likes to make moves, whether it’s trading a name, or tweaking the bench or bullpen. However, he’s put together a pretty solid team, and one I think can at least end their 15-year postseason drought.
FanGraphs has them projected at 83-79, but they also have the Rangers and Angels at the same record. I think this team is better than both those, but that depends on a couple question marks, namely Smyly and Segura. If those two can come through even slightly above expectations, this team could get the King his first postseason start.