Who Wins the Seattle Mariners Utility Job?

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 20: Taylor Motter
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 20: Taylor Motter /

With Spring Training  just a few days away, the Mariners starting nine is all but set in stone. Players such as Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager anchoring the infield, there are few spots undecided on the position player list.

The only real question mark is who will man the utility spot.  Will we see a flow bro reunion with Taylor Motter making the roster? Maybe it will be newcomer and veteran Andrew Romine who takes the job? Could there be a surprise player out of camp that shows off the unique skill set? Or will Jerry Dipoto scratch his itch and acquire a new player to take the helm?

Motter, 28, was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays prior to the 2017 season. His slash line of .198/.257/.326 isn’t pretty. He hit .206 along with all 7 of his home runs in 209 at bats in the 1st half. Five of those home runs came in the month of April. This was shortly after Motter began filling in for the injured Segura. He does have versatility however, as he played every position in 2017 except for catcher, center field and pitcher.

Romine, 32, signed a 1-year, $1.05M contract with the M’s back in December. With the Tigers in 2017, Romine hit .239/.289/.336 along with a -1.1 WAR compared to Motter’s -0.6 WAR. Romine played in 32 more games that Motter did, spending a majority of his time at either 2B or CF. Romine also did pitch in one game in 2017, so maybe Jerry DID add to the pitching staff this offseason. *Big sigh*

The Mariners also invited infielder Zach Vincej to Spring Training. Vincej was claimed off waivers from the Reds earlier this offseason. The right-handed hitting SS/2B doesn’t have much time at the Major League level. He played in just 9 games in 2017. At the Minor League level however, Vincej is a career .272/.339/.361 hitter in 6 seasons. The 26-year-old could conceivably play multiple other positions other than the middle infield. This makes him a prime candidate to join the fray in a battle for the Utility role in Spring Training.

As you may have heard, a few players remain on the free agent market as we approach the beginning of Spring.  Jerry said that he is practically done adding to the position player group but this IS Jerry we are talking about.

The best utility man of the group is easily Eduardo Nunez. Obviously a player of his caliber would not come to Seattle to play as a bench player/back up position player. However, I’m sure Jerry and Scott can get creative. The M’s also have created flexibility on their own. The addition if Dee Gordon could make the need less of a problem.

So if Robinson Cano or Jean Segura were to get injured (And I will make every sacrifice to the Baseball Gods I can to make sure that doesn’t happen) Gordon could be moved in from the outfield into the role of either of the two. Then, one of Ben Gamel, Mitch Haniger or Guillermo Heredia could take over the everyday CF job. Then dominoes could all begin to fall into place from there. While Gordon may not be as defensively gifted in center as Jarrod Dyson was, he makes up for with his bat and his versatility.

Next: All Aboard the Mariners Optimism Train!

The utility role and the 5th starter spot seem like they are going to be the most exciting battles out of camp for the Mariners. If I had to make a prediction, I would say that the battle comes down to Romine and Motter with Motter edging Romine out by a hair (get it?) due to his power potential. I would like to see Vincej given a long look and maybe even a shot out of camp and I could see him jumping ahead of Romine on the depth chart.

We are finally just a few short weeks away from getting to watch Mariners baseball. After a rough offseason for baseball, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and an exciting battle is brewing down in Peoria.