Nelson Cruz Signs with Twins

Former Mariner’s free agent Nelson Cruz signed a one-year contract on Thursday, December 27 with the Minnesota Twins. The contract is for $14 million plus an option for 2020 as well. I am sure all Mariner fans will miss Cruz. On social media, he thanked the Mariners ownership, management, players and fans for his four years in Seattle. I am sure we all thank Cruz for his time in Seattle as well. 

The Mariners I am sure felt it was time to move on from Cruz along with the other players they traded away or released. They now have Edwin Encarnacion as the designated hitter. In 2019 the Mariners will pay him $16 million then have a buyout of $5 million for 2020. It seems to me the money is about the same so why not bring back Cruz? The answer to that could take place soon or during the season. 

The Mariners may decide to trade Encarnacion before the season begins for some prospects though they may have to pay part of his salary as well. This happens then the Mariners likely won’t have an everyday designated hitter. We could see Jay Bruce who they picked up from the Mets in the trade for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz be at designated hitter well as left field. The Mariners may use Daniel Vogelbach as the DH against right-handed pitchers.  Several different options when facing a left-handed pitcher. They could use one of their regulars at DH to rest them in the field on occasion as well. This is true especially if they have some nagging injuries. 

I hope they do trade Encarnacion so they can use the money saved to help bring in a starting pitcher and or relief pitcher. I have mentioned before I don’t really like full-time DH’s though Cruz and Edgar Martinez were exceptions to the rule. 

Daniel Vogelbach could be considered a DH only player, however, he can play some first base though he has to work on his range. I want players though they may be at DH three or times a week can still play in the field. This would allow a team to add another player to the roster instead of having a player who can only DH. 

I am sure Dipoto and his staff are working at adding more depth to the pitching staff. The Mariners certainly need another experienced reliever and an experienced starter would help to go a long way as well to improve the team. The Mariners are now about six weeks away from training camp starting so filling out the rest of the roster will be important. Next time on the Mariners I will list who the Mariners have far as pitching goes on the 40-man roster. I hope we have an addition or two by then. 

Merry Christmas To All

I wonder whether Jerry Dipoto will make another trade or signing before Christmas Eve.

It would be nice if Santa Claus can bring the Mariners a starting pitcher or a closer. A starter who can be a number one or two would be great. I am sure there are those who think why do the Mariners need a closer if they don’t win a lot of games this coming season. Who knows they could surprise us. 

The Mariners could win more games than we think in 2019. If they can break even in division play and do a better job beating teams in inter-league play could be around 80 to 84 wins. 

I don’t expect the Angels and the Rangers to be much better than last season. The A’s may not win as many games as last season. I expect the Astros to be about the same. The American league east the Red Sox and Yankees should be about the same if not better. The Toronto Blue Jays probably won’t be as good so the Mariners can beat them at home that would be nice. The Tampa Bay Rays might win the same amount of games at 90 and the Orioles a little better.

In the American League Central, I don’t expect the Cleveland Indians will be as good as last year and the Mariners did fine against them last season. I don’t think the rest of the central will be much better either. So the Mariners might be better than we think. 

It is hard to know of course at this time how many games the Mariners will win but they may surprise us. They had an awesome first half but reality set in after the all-star break.  This was even with four all-star players and Mitch Haniger is the only one will be back. Also, Robinson Cano missed half the season and he isn’t returning either.  A lot will come down to the starting pitching along with the bullpen. Outside of Alex Colome and Edwin Diaz, the rest of the bullpen didn’t do that well.  Whatever the bullpen turns out to be we may see a better one. I know this would be a surprise too.  We just hope whomever the closer is he won’t blow too many games. The importance is the setup men will be able to keep the lead up to the closer. 

Anyway a toast right now for the coming 2019. Once again Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  

Mariners Sign Lefty; Trade For another Santana

On Thursday the Mariners signed left-handed relief specialist Zach Rosscup to a one-year contract.  Rosscup has been injured most of the last year two years. 

The Mariners had only lefty in the bullpen in Roenis Elias, and he is considered more of a long reliever. Elias could be the fifth starter in the rotation as well. GM Jerry Dipoto was looking to pick up a lefty specialist. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mariners will keep looking for another lefty with more success. Signing Rosscup to a one-year contract isn’t a big risk if things don’t work out with him.

The Mariners announced just minutes ago they had traded outfielder Ben Gamel along with a minor league pitcher to the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Domingo Santana. This should be good for Gamel who had become the Mariners fourth outfielder with the trades the Mariners had made over the off-season. Jay Bruce another left-handed hitter was considered the starter in left field so Gamel wouldn’t have played a lot except an occasional start or pinch hitting. 

Santana now can be used platooning with Bruce in left field. He is listed as a right fielder so he could play there as well moving Mitch Haniger to center field to give center fielder Mallix Smith a day off. Santana had off-year in 2018 hitting .265 in 85 games. He had a .328 on-base percentage. In 2017 he had an outstanding season hitting 30 home runs along with 85 runs batted in. He is only 26 years so he will be under team control for two more years so it isn’t a high-risk situation for the Mariners. 

Going to Milwaukee Brewers will be a good thing for Gamel. The Brewers were stacked with right-handed hitting outfielders so picking up Gamel will give him more playing time. Not only will he have a chance to possibly platoon with Milwaukee he can be used as a left-handed hitting pinch hitter. 

Being stacked with right-handed hitting outfielders is the reason the Brewers were willing to trade Santana to the Mariners. Dipoto is hoping Santana can rebound from the poor 2018 season he had. Even if he doesn’t hit 30 home runs next season if he can get around 15 home runs batting around .270 in a platoon situation than be a successful trade for the Mariners. 

Ben Gamel was popular in Seattle even though he played part-time for the Mariners. I know we will miss seeing him but with the Mariners making all these changes to the roster, not a big surprise either. We wish Gamel the very best in Milwaukee. 

T-Mobile Park

Not really anyone’s surprise the Seattle Mariners are now playing in T-Mobile Park. The Mariners made the announcement today, December 19 they have signed a 25-year agreement for the naming rights.

I am sure some of us will continue calling it Safeco Field for a while. T-Mobile may be a cell phone carrier but the name sounds like a place people will go to stay in their RV’s with park at the end of the name, 

Now, this agreement has taken place it is now time to see who Jerry Dipoto will sign or trade for the next six or seven weeks before spring training begins. Recently they have signed a few minor leaguers who probably will be invited to spring training but not someone we can say wow too. These have been players who will add depth in case of injuries but anyone not expected really to be on the roster when the season begins. At least the Mariners are making changes to the AAA roster as well. 

I don’t expect any trades like they have made already unless they plan to move Edwin Encarnacion or Jay Bruce for some other major league player and prospects. Otherwords, reduce salaries. Dipoto may look at doing so during the trading deadline in July as well. We will see, won’t we? 

Mariners Make Moves on Thursday

Jerry Dipoto and the Seattle Mariners haven’t done much this week at the Winter Meetings. On Wednesday he had a cold so he let his management team do the job. The Mariners did make a few minor moves but certainly nothing like he did before meetings. I don’t think many expected to make a big splash. I am sure he talked to a few teams about trades and free agents as well. The Mariners won’t sign any high priced free agents however with Dipoto he could make a surprise move.

Dipoto is interested in Japanese free agent pitcher Yusei Kikuchi. This would be something to sign him with needing another starting pitcher plus the fact the Mariners will start the season against the Oakland A’s in March 2019 in Japan. Signing Kikuchi would make things big back home for him too. Of course, there are other teams interested in him as well.

An interesting move at the beginning of the winter meetings was the Mariners picking up Kaleb Cowart off of waivers from the Los Angeles Angels. Jerry Dipoto said the Mariners would make him into a two-way player. In his pro career, he has played primarily played the infield. When he was drafted by the Angels in 2010 they talked about making him into a pitcher but he wanted to play every day. He isn’t a good hitter batting below .200 in his career but plays good defense and his fastball does reach the mid 90’s. So if he makes the Mariner could see him do both.

During this writing, Jerry Dipoto made a trade with the Cleveland Indians sending Carlos Santana who they had acquired in the trade with the Phillies for Jean Segura. The Mariners acquire designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and a competitive balance Round B pick in 2019 which is the 77th overall pick. The Mariners could move Encarnacion along as well. Dipoto made this trade while being in the hospital. He is expected to be released Thursday and head home to Seattle. 

In the Rule 5 draft, the Mariners took righthanded pitcher Brandon Brennan from the Colorado Rockies organization. Last year he pitched for double-A Birmingham and triple-A Charlotte of the Chicago White Sox organization. Recently the Rockies had signed him to a minor league contract.

Stay tuned to what Dipoto and the Mariners will do further. 

Major League Winter Meeting Begin on Monday

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 . 

Mariners Deal Cano and Diaz

How many are surprised that Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz are being traded to the New York Mets.  I know I certainly am. I am sure Jerry Dipoto tried with the Yankees first but they decided they didn’t want him back for the price it would likely cost them.

I am sure Cano packed his bags for his contract for veteran players while Diaz went for the prospects. At this point I am sure without Paxton, Zunino and Cano moving Diaz made sense as well.

We will have to see whether the Mariners will make some other trades as well. There is talk about Jean Segura going to the Philadelphia Phillies after the trade to the San Diego Padres didn’t work out which I am glad for because it wasn’t a very good trade for sure.

I heard a national writer say sending Diaz to the Atlanta Braves would have been the best deal however they decided not to give up their top prospects. 
For  the short term this likely hurt the Mariners but help them for long term. Dipoto decided the team needed changes to compete with the Astros and A’s for several years instead of adding bandages to the situation. 
Jay Bruce acquired in the trade will likely be the dh and on occasion play in the outfield unless Dipoto decides to trade him elsewhere.

Right now the starting line up is Ryon Healy at first base, Dee Gordon at second base, Jean Segura at shortstop, Kyle Seager at third base, Ben Gamel in left, Mallex in center, Mitch Haniger in right field, newly acquired Omar Narvaez at catcher and Bruce at dh. 

We will look at the pitching staff coming up later.