Could surprise offseason addition win Mariners' utility role out of Spring Training?

The Mariners some serious competition for the Utility spot on the roster. Who are they, and who makes the team out of Spring Training?

Seattle Mariners Photo Day
Seattle Mariners Photo Day / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

With Opening Day less than two weeks away, The Mariners are closer to making their final roster decisions. We know who will be in the starting lineup for the most part. There are still battles being played out in the bullpen and at third base. But, at least for me, the biggest battle is for the utility role on the team.

The last few years saw guys like Dylan Moore and Sam Haggerty fill that role. And for the most part, they filled that role nicely. Moore even earned himself a contract extension, signing a 3YR/$8.875M extension that bought out his arbitration years. But the problem with these two guys was inconsistency. Sure, they filled in well on defense, but their offensive numbers left a lot to be desired, even from a bench bat.

Dylan Moore struggled at the plate in 2023. He hit just .207/.303/.428/.731 with an OPS+ of 104. He struck out at almost a 34% clip, about 11% higher than the league average. Sam Haggerty also struggled in 2023, hitting just .253/.364/.341/.705 with an OPS+ of 102. Haggerty is not an extra-base hitter, and probably never will be. He takes his walks, as is shown by his on-base percentage. He walks, and he can steal a bag.

In all likelihood, Dylan Moore will start the season as the team's utility player, while Haggerty will likely start his season in Tacoma. But there is another player making a push to make this team, and he could force a guy like Dylan Moore out if he underperforms. So, who is he? Samad Taylor, remember the name.

The Mariners traded for Taylor earlier this offseason, acquiring him from the Kansas City Royals for a "Player to be Named Later". Taylor is just 25 years old and could be one of the fastest guys in the whole organization. He made his Major League debut last season with the Royals, and he did struggle a bit. But his numbers for their AAA affiliate were exciting. .302/.418/.466/.884, with 8 home runs, 43 stolen bases and 66 walks in 335 at-bats. He has also hit 2 home runs this Spring.

Taylor has some serious upside, something the Mariners bench has lacked for some time. He can play the infield and outfield, just like Moore and Haggerty. He can be a strikeout guy, as he struck out at about a 25% clip in AAA last season. But that is still significantly less than Dylan Moore, and eliminating strikeouts has been something the Front Office has been focused on this offseason.

Like I said earlier, I still think Dylan Moore makes this team. But with Taylor performing this Spring, and the fact that they went out and traded for him, I think Samad Taylor has a real shot. Mariners fans will take to him real quick, especially if he can get hot right away. I, for one, am excited to have him here in Seattle.

As always, Go Mariners!