With decisions having to be made with the Rule 5 Draft approaching, teams all around baseball had to re-adjust their 40-man rosters. The Mariners were no different, and had some important decisions to make on who was going to stick around and be protected, and who was going to be put up for grabs in the Rule 5 Draft.
For those unfamiliar or possibly looking for a reminder, here is how it works. If a minor leaguer was drafted at age 18 or younger, the team has to place them on their 40 man after five seasons with the team. If they were 19 or older when drafted, they get four seasons before they have to protect them. If they do not place them on the 40 man, then they become elligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
The caveat with this is that a player has to be added to the MLB roster if selected. If they are sent back down, the original team has the option of taking them back.
The Mariners had a handful of intriguing prospects that they could've added to the 40 man, including some names you may be familiar with.
OF - Alberto Rodriguez
RHP - Taylor Dollard
SS - Axel Sanchez
OF - Zach DeLoach
C - Blake Hunt
1B/3B - Luis Suisbel
Hunt was already protected after the Mariners added him to the 40 after acquiring him from the Rays earlier this offseason. The only player that was added today was OF Zach DeLoach, who we ranked earlier this offseason as the team's 24th prospect. Dollard, Sanchez, Rodriguez, and Suisbel were all left unprotected in advance of the Rule 5 draft on December 6th. DeLoach had a strong 2023 in Tacoma, hitting .286/.387/.481 with 30 2B and 23 HR in 138 games at AAA this year.
The bigger news, I think, is the fact that the Mariners designated Mike Ford for assignment, removing him from the 40 man roster. Ford was streaky for the Mariners this year, but provided a needed boost of power at the DH spot, hitting 16 HR with a 122 OPS+ despite the .228/.323/.475 slash line and 32.3% K rate. He was a true three outcome player, striking out/walking/homering in 48.3% of his ABs.
Fans enjoyed having Ford around, but his second half of the season was pretty rough. After a .238/.302/.540 stretch with 11 HR through 45 games to start his season (June and July) he would hit just .215/.348/.387 with 5 HR in 38 games to finish the year. He walked a lot, and that was about it as the XBH disappeared.
Whether or not Mike Ford sticks around in AAA or gets picked up by another team, time will tell. Congratulations to Zach DeLoach on being named to the 40 man roster for the 2023/24 Mariners.