Alternative options to solve the Andrew Romine problem
By Ty Gonzalez
Andrew Romine is not worthy of a 25-man roster spot on a contending team. But the Mariners don’t have many utility options internally. As daunting as replacing him sounds, the Mariners have other paths they can take to fix their Romine problem.
If you follow us on Twitter, then you’re very familiar with my distaste for Andrew Romine‘s presence on this team. It’s not because of Romine as a person – he seems to be a nice guy. He’s just bad at baseball.
In yesterday’s annoying 8-3 loss to the wounded Astros, Romine knocked in his first RBI of the season. We’re 108 games into the season, and Romine has been on the team since the beginning.
Romine has only played in 51 of those games, contributing a meager 95 plate appearances. As of now, Romine has more strikeouts (31) than hits (17). Whenever he’s been in the lineup, it’s been a frustrating sight to behold.
But the Mariners haven’t kept Romine because they think he’ll figure it out at the plate. They know what he is offensively; it’s his defense and pinch running ability that’s kept him on the team.
He’s done a decent job in both areas for as little as he’s played. Considering that most teams look for utility infielders to have a defense-first mindset, Romine is a solid participant on some rosters.
But not this one.
Over the last month, the Mariners have been the second-worst run-producing offense in baseball. With Ben Gamel now in Tacoma, the Mariners don’t have a legitimate offensive threat stashed on their bench.
Some of the AL’s best teams have dynamic rosters that offer different matchup possibilities on a nightly basis. The Mariners don’t have that – it’s the same nine players every night. If there is a change in the lineup, it’s for a defensive replacement who’s atrocious at the plate.
The Astros have Marwin Gonzalez; the Red Sox have Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt; the Indians have Erik Gonzalez. All these players have a healthy balance of offense and defense. They’re game-changers because they offer you an added layer of depth to your roster.
Andrew Romine doesn’t do that for you. Neither does Zach Vincej.
The lack of depth causes me anxiety. With absolutely nothing promising waiting in Tacoma, a serious injury to Jean Segura, Dee Gordon, or Kyle Seager would likely spell the end for the Mariners.
They need some sort of stopgap available to them, and that’s not Romine. At the very least, the Mariners need to mold their roster into something that affords them a little more flexibility.
For as little as he’s played, Romine is wasting a roster spot that could be given to someone more offensively inclined.
This isn’t a cry for the Mariners to simply acquire another utility infielder. While that option is still there, this article’s purpose is to preach the necessity of putting the best bats this team can shove on the roster.
Going into the final stretch of a playoff race, the Mariners can no longer afford to carry dead weight like Romine and Nick Vincent.
With how well the starting rotation has performed, there really is no reason for an eight-man bullpen. Vincent has been a liability since his return from the disabled list and hasn’t shown any signs of improvement; he doesn’t help this team. Pivot to a seven-man rotation and open another spot on the bench.
Gamel should not be in Tacoma. Even if it means sacrificing some defense in exchange for offense, Gamel is more deserving of a roster spot than Guillermo Heredia. When your offense has been this bad at such a crucial moment in the season, decisions like these need to be made.
Romine, as you know, should be DFA’d as soon as possible. Simple as that.
So what are these “alternative options” to replace Romine? Well, the first one is pretty straightforward: there is no replacement.
The Mariners don’t need someone who can play all four infield positions. Gordon can play shortstop, Ryon Healy can play third base, Segura can play second base, and even Chris Herrmann can play first base and corner outfield. When Robinson Cano returns in two weeks, the Mariners will have yet another player who can field multiple positions.
Removing the utility infield spot and the eighth reliever altogether allows the Mariners to add another solid offensive player anywhere. Even if they so desire, it would open the door for them to keep both Gamel and Heredia on the same roster.
A Romine-for-Cano swap seems to be the likeliest scenario upon Cano’s return if the Mariners do wish to maintain their eight-man bullpen. If not, Heredia and Healy would be the other two obvious choices to be sent down for Cano.
However, sending Heredia down would leave the Mariners with three outfielders until September, and having Healy on the bench would give them that offensive depth I’ve alluded to.
The other option, of course, is to acquire another bat before the August 31 waiver deadline. In this case, the Mariners would be ditching both Romine and Vincent to clear space for Cano and whoever the Mariners trade for.
What’s often lost in all of this is that Cano is not eligible to play in the playoffs, so the Mariners should prepare for life without him. Adding another bat to the fold would give the M’s more depth while allowing them to carry an eight-or-nine-man bullpen into the playoffs.
Given the mentioned versatility of Gordon, Segura, Healy, and Herrmann, the addition could truly be anyone at any position. Anyone from Daniel Murphy to Lucas Duda could be a fit.
Every time a utility player is made available, I always hear, “He’s an upgrade over Romine,” even if the player of topic is mediocre as well. I’m tired of that. I don’t want mediocre. I want to see the best offensive players the Mariners can get, no matter where they come from. Upgrading from Romine isn’t a hard thing to accomplish.
If the option to snag a direct Romine replacement is there, of course you take it. The point is, it’s not absolutely necessary. Get whatever gives you the most flexibility and go from there.
Depth makes you more dangerous. The team that’s now tied with you doesn’t have much of it and they’re overachieving. Their whole situation just doesn’t appear sustainable.
But the lack of offense is worrisome, and it’s exactly why the Mariners are in the situation they’re now in. Thankfully, it is a fixable situation. It’s just that the M’s haven’t done much to fix it.
Getting your best bats on the same roster makes you a better team than your competition. At this point, offense needs to take priority over defense.
The starting point is obvious.