Seattle Mariners Ink Dustin Ackley to Minor League Deal
The Seattle Mariners have added a name to their minor league invite list, inking former Mariner Dustin Ackley to a minor league deal today, with an invitation to Major League Camp for Spring Training.
Ackley, the former number 2 overall pick of the Mariners in the 2009 MLB Draft, began his career in Seattle with much fanfare. He made his debut in 2011 and proceeded to hit .273/.348/.413, where he finished sixth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
After that, Ackley fell off the proverbial cliff, slashing just .239/.300/.355 in his next 1600 PAs before he was traded to the New York Yankees on July 30, 2015. Since then, Ackley has spent the last 2 seasons in the Los Angeles Angels organization, playing for the Salt Lake Bees.
In that time, Ackley has almost exclusively played at DH as he has been recovering from shoulder surgery. In 2018, he slashed .286/.378/.398 in 284 PAs for the Bees.
It is unclear if Ackley has recovered enough to play in the field, but if he has, he may provide some depth at several positions. Ackley has never had a strong arm, which does limit his defensive value to first base, second base, and left field.
The Mariners have recently talked about adding a veteran infielder, but Ackley will not be that player. Ackley cannot handle shortstop and the main purpose of the infielder Jerry Dipoto is to play shortstop until they deem J.P. Crawford “ready”.
Ackley will have a chance to make the club out of Spring Training. With the expanded rosters for the first 2 games in Japan (28 players vs 25), it is possible that Ackley makes the opening day roster.
However, it will be difficult for Ackley to find a spot. With Domingo Santana in LF and Dee Gordon at 2B, it could just leave first base as the only real fit. However, first base is also loaded up with Edwin Encarnacion, Ryon Healy, Dan Vogelbach, and even Jay Bruce who also plays LF.
With an uphill battle to make the roster, Ackley will more than likely start the year in AAA Tacoma. It is unknown if he has an opt-out clause in his contract to allow him to pursue MLB opportunities. Ackley is not on the 40 man roster.
Apples to apples, it is highly unlikely Ackley will see any time with the Mariners in 2019. But if Seattle believes they can help him regain some of the lusters of the former top prospect, he is exactly the type of player worth taking a chance on.