4. Who is the closer in 2020?
There are very few positions that matter less to a rebuilding team than a closer, but the role is certain to be a topic of conversation this spring. Last winter, after the Mariners traded away Edwin Diaz, they signed Hunter Strickland to a 1-year deal to serve as the teams closer. The plan hit a snag when Strickland hurt his shoulder in March and was only able to appear in 4 games before being traded in July.
But the idea was simple, use a veteran with big-game experience in the ninth inning as to allow less experienced arms to get comfortable before being thrown to the wolves. By that logic, Carl Edwards Jr., formerly a member of the Chicago Cubs World Series team, would be the favorite entering 2020.
Austin Adams was a good candidate prior to his late-season ACL tear. Sam Tuivailala was the most consistent reliever last season, so he could be in the mix. Matt Magill more or less finished out 2019 as the teams closer and did a nice job.
Brandon Brennan may be a dark horse candidate. His choppy 2019 included flashes of brilliance, including stretches where he looked awfully similar to Blake Treinen. It remains unlikely the job will be handed to any of the young prospects who will try to make the club out of spring training.
There are some experienced closers still on the market that could make sense. All have significant warts to deal with but could get an opportunity and run with it in the low-pressure environment of Seattle.
Blake Parker, Greg Holland, and Cody Allen are all possibilities, as is a “closer by committee” approach. Ultimately, the closer on a bad team isn’t all that valuable. But that won’t stop fans from talking about it, so it lands at number 4 on our list.