Seattle Mariners baseball begins with spring training in just under four weeks. Baseball fans we can’t wait.
It has been a slow off-season for the Mariners, making only one trade of significance sending catcher Omar Narvaez to the Milwaukee Brewers. Also, they no longer have Domingo Santana so it leaves the Mariners with less power in the lineup.
The Mariners will have three players in the starting lineup that were in the organization last year but didn’t start the season with them in 2019. Evan White will likely be at first base after signing a six-year contract during the off-season. Shed Long will be at second base and Kyle Lewis in left field. Both Long and Lewis showed promise being in the lineup for most of September.
Tom Murphy, who was Narvaez backup last year, will probably be the Mariners starting catcher in 2020. His stats were not too far from Narvaez, hitting 18 home runs while batting .273. How much he starts will depend on how he handles playing on a regular basis.
Austin Nola is expected to be his backup. He was recalled from Tacoma last June when the Mariners traded Edwin Encarnacion to the New York Yankees. He spent most of his playing time at first base where he played good defense along with hitting .269 along with 10 home runs.
We could see both in the lineup at the same time. The Mariners are expected to have Daniel Vogelbach as the designated hitter almost exclusively against right-handed hitters as he struggled facing lefties last season so the Mariners could have either Murphy or Nola both right-handed hitters in the lineup as the DH against lefties.
Nola spent time at catcher and first base while playing at Tacoma before being recalled. His versatility, along with having Narvaez and Murphy on the roster, meant he didn’t get a lot of chances to catch. This coming season it looks as though he will have that chance unless the Mariners pick up another catcher.
Cal Raleigh the projected Mariners catcher of the future, played high-level A and double-A ball last season. The Mariners likely will start Raleigh in double-A or triple-A; depending on how he does could be up with Seattle in September. So his future is still a year or two away.
The rest of the Mariners lineup should be JP Crawford at shortstop, Kyle Seager at third base, Mallex Smith in center field and Mitch Haniger in right field. Dee Gordon is still on the Mariner roster at this time and may be used as the super-utility player with Long expected to play almost every day at second base. Long did play in left-field last September so the Mariners could move him out there to give Gordon some playing time. Gordon could also play some shortstop to give JP Crawford a day off once in a while.
The starting rotation is pretty well set with Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, Justus Sheffield, and newcomer Kendall Graveman the Mariners signed as a free agent during the off-season as the fourth starter. The Mariners are hoping Justin Dunn their number five prospect as the fifth starter.
There are questions about whether he will be ready to go or not. If he isn’t ready, the Mariners will have to find someone else for the spot so they may still sign another possible starter over the next few weeks.
The bullpen is where the competition for making the roster out of spring training will happen. There will be at least 16 pitchers going for eight spots. When it comes to relievers, 5 of those are as close to a lock to make the team out of spring training they are Brandon Brennan, Carl Edward Jr (signed as a free agent), Matt Magill as the closer, Erik Swanson, and Sam Tuivailala. This means three spots open for the rest of the guys to compete.
Since the Mariners are not expected to compete for the division title they could trade any of those five pitchers listed above for a prospect or two. When it comes to 2021 or 2022 when the Mariners figure they are ready to compete none of the relievers on this year’s ball club be around.
One thing we know is that this coming season may be an exciting one though the Mariners may not have a lot of wins. We will see the future stars making there way up the latter of success. Go M’s.