Jul 24, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners center fielder James Jones (99) steals second base against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
4- Who will be left off the initial 25-man roster?
This question will be answered sooner than the others, but with all of the acquisitions, with all of the talent, who makes the cut?
Let’s take a look at a projected 25-man roster.
Locks and virtual locks:
Outfield- Austin Jackson, Dustin Ackley, Justin Ruggiano, Seth Smith, Nelson Cruz (DH)
Okay, that’s 19 with one starting pitcher missing and four bullpen pieces missing (Lloyd likes his 8-man bullpen). So that leaves one starting spot for one of: Erasmo Ramirez, J.A. Happ and Roenis Elias.
My guess is that Happ gets the job and Elias – though he performed well his rookie year – goes to Triple-A Tacoma to work out the kinks. Erasmo probably goes there as well, though he could earn a spot as long-relief in the pen.
For the four pen spots, that leaves: Danny Hultzen, Carson Smith, David Rollins, Yoervis Medina, Lucas Luetge, Dominic Leone, Anthony Fernandez, Mayckol Guaipe and Edgar Olmos along with Elias and Ramirez to fight it out for three spots.
With only Furbush as a lefty lock in the pen, Lloyd will likely go with at least one other lefty and it could be the Rule 5 pickup Rollins.
I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m going to guess that the four bullpen pieces will be: Medina, Smith, Rollins and Ramirez.
So that leaves one spot open for a bench player. With Bloomquist able to fill in just about anywhere on the field and two extra outfielders already, we can all but rule out seeing James Jones, Steven Romero, Jesus Montero or any other familiar face including Chris Taylor.
What the team needs is a backup catcher. With Jesus Sucre and John Hicks both on the 40-man, it’s likely that one of these two will be the 25th man on the roster, to back up Zunino.
Hicks impressed in the Arizona Fall League, and if he continues that in Spring Training, he could earn the job over Sucre.
So, I will project that the final spot will go to Sucre.