Jerry Dipoto and his staff will be in Las Vegas, Nevada for major league baseball winter meetings beginning on Monday.
The Mariners are not expected to make any big splash in regards to trades like they have recently in the trades of Mike Zunino, Guillermo Heredia, James Paxton, Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, Alex Colome, Jean Segura, Juan Nicasio, and James Pazos.
The Mariners 40-man roster certainly looks different than the one I looked at over a month ago. Outside of Paxton the starting rotation right now looks like Marco Gonzales, Mike Leake, Wade LeBlanc and Felix Hernandez. The fifth starter could be Justus Sheffield and or Erik Swanson they picked up in the Paxton trade. Sheffield and Swanson could both start in Tacoma at triple-A however likely be the rotation by the all-star break.
Jerry Dipoto will look add to the bullpen with the departures of Colome, Diaz, Nicasio and James Pazos. Only Dan Altavilla and Chasen Bradford pitched in more than 20 games out of the bullpen for the Mariners last season. Most of Altavilla’s relief pitching happened early on in the season having to go on the disabled list because of an injury to his right elbow. Bradford had early success with the Mariners however with so much work of those in the bullpen he spent some time in Tacoma as well.
With the departure of James Pazos the Mariners only have one left handed reliever in the bullpen in Roinas Elias. He has been used primarily in long relief though I am sure he could get in some action as a left handed specialist however Dipoto will look for someone who has experience in that area. Dipoto would have looked for a left handed specialist anyway because the Mariners poor performances in that area last season and needed to upgrade anyway.
The Mariners will have to look to see if they can find a closer on the market. I am sure there are fans who think the Mariners will be so bad they don’t really need a closer. Right now the only three real possible closers on the 40-man roster right now to close would be Dan Altavilla because he throws the ball hard, Matt Festa throws hard as well and was the closer in double A most of last season.
The third member of the group would be Shawn Armstrong who closed for the Tacoma Rainier’s most of last season. Armstrong had success in September when promoted after the triple A season. He primarily came out as the first reliever out of the bullpen. In 14 games he had a record of 0-1 with an era of 1.23 with 15 strike outs and one save.
Altavilla, Festa, and Armstrong would all be best served as setup men in the bullpen though they could each try their hand at it if Dipoto isn’t able to get a closer. However, with Dipoto I am sure he will find someone.
Other candidates the Mariners will have at this time in the setup roles as righthanders include Anthony Swarzak the veteran pitcher they picked up in the Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz trade from the New York Mets. He missed most of last season with a sore oblique though he did find a way to pitch in 29 games His time on the mound wasn’t great since he had an era of 6.15. He had four saves so the Mariners could use him to in the role of closer if they don’t find a way to move him on.
The Mariners have only Sam Tuivailala for the bullpen with really much major league experience besides the ones already mentioned. The Mariners picked him at the end of July before the trading deadline from the St. Louis Cardinals. However, he was injured in a run down in early August and missed the rest of the season. He may not be ready to go at the beginning of the season though.
Besides adding pitching the Mariners will likely go out and find another catcher to add to the roster. They have only two on the 40-man roster with David Freitas who was the backup catcher to Mike Zunino for much of the season and Omar Narvaez they picked up in the trade for Alex Colome from the Chicago White Sox.
Narvaez is expected to be the Mariners starting catcher. He isn’t the defensive catcher Zunino is and doesn’t have nearly the power in the bat either. He does hit for a better average along with on base percentage. Narvaez bats left handed so likely the Mariners will go out and pick up a right handed hitting catcher or go with Freitas who bats right handed as well. So likely Freitas or whomever they pick up will catch once or twice a week and start against a tough left handed starter.
Narvaez batted .275 with an on-base percentage of .366. Although he doesn’t have a lot of home run power he did have nine home runs along with 14 doubles. He walked 38 times and struck out 65 times in 98 games.
When it comes to the regular every day lineup the Mariners may not make any more moves unless they want to lower more payroll by trading Jay Bruce who they picked up in the Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz trade or Carlos Santana in the Jean Segura trade. Also they could trade second baseman Dee Gordon or third baseman Kyle Seager. Those two most likely wouldn’t happen unless someone offers something real good.
The Mariners may have to go out and pick up a second baseman or shortstop if J.P. Crawford isn’t ready to play everyday at shortstop they picked him up in the Jean Segura trade. Dee Gordon could move over to short if a second baseman is picked up instead of a shortstop.
The Mariners could look to pick up a veteran utility player who primarily play shortstop. Near the end of last season they picked up Kristopher Negron from the Arizona Diamondbacks who played most of last season in triple A. The Mariners were impressed by him however he doesn’t have much major league experience so likely would only play sparingly.
So this coming week will be interesting to see so is added onto the roster. The Mariners right now have 35 players on the 40-man roster so five players can be added without any additional changes needed. This would be for any free agent signees whether for the starting rotation, bullpen, catcher, infield or outfield. Go M’s .