After Monday’s trade for former Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez, Abraham Toro appears set for a pure utility role with the Seattle Mariners; Toro is an infielder by nature, but Suarez’s positional rigidity at third base will likely limit Toro’s playing time at the hot corner.
Mariners President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto noted earlier this offseason that Abraham Toro would begin getting work in the outfield by Spring Training to increase his utility value.
With Eugenio Suarez entering the season with a strong hold on third base and Adam Frazier likely seeing the bulk of the action at second base, Toro, a notoriously good athlete, could benefit from a transition to the outfield. Toro remains one of the fastest players on the Mariners, and Seattle’s current outfield trio of Jarred Kelenic, Mitch Haniger, and new acquisition Jesse Winker aren’t exactly Gold Glovers in the field.
Despite his lack of a single inning of experience in the outfield at the major league level, I believe Abraham Toro will not only see the outfield this season, but he’ll actually get a decent amount of reps in center. In a previous SoDo Mojo article, I analyzed Jarred Kelenic’s MLB-worst Defensive Rating (according to FanGraphs) in center field last season, so the Mariners are most definitely looking for an upgrade at one of baseball’s most crucial positions.
While top prospect Julio Rodriguez is blowing Mariners management away with his conditioning and athleticism and causing the team to seriously consider him as the answer in center field once he is called up, the idea of putting J-Rod in the same situation as fellow phenom Jarred Kelenic was during his rookie season (daily starts in center field while being expected to contribute offensively) doesn’t sit well with me.
Based on Abraham Toro’s above-average athleticism and positional flexibility, the Mariners’ current outfield trio’s lack of defensive expertise, and the importance of keeping Julio Rodriguez comfortable upon his call-up, I expect we’ll see #13 get a considerable amount of reps in center field in 2022.