Any infield that has All-Stars as fixtures at second base and third base, as the Seattle Mariners do with Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager, figures to be pretty good.
Sure, there are questions elsewhere, but the Mariners believe — unlike last year — they’re reasonably well-equipped in all areas with viable options.
The projected competition between Brad Miller and Chris Taylor to determine a starting shortstop is one of the top storylines in camp. Miller enters the spring with a slight edge because of his run-production potential.
First baseman Logan Morrison closed last season with two strong months, but he has been prone to injury — playing fewer than 100 games in each of the past three years.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News Tribune
So the Mariners need a backup/alternative. That could be Rickie Weeks, the longtime Milwaukee second baseman signed last week to fill a reserve role. Weeks sure doesn’t figure to play much at second with Cano around.
Or it could be erstwhile mega-prospect Jesus Montero, who is seeking to prove that he has moved, finally, beyond a series of personal issues.
Veteran utilityman Willie Bloomquist, at 37, can also play first but must prove he’s sufficiently recovered from an injured right knee that required season-ending surgery Aug. 9.
Cano, at 32, remains one of the game’s premier players, and Seager is a rising star who signed a seven-year deal in the off-season for $100 million.
Morrison is the unquestioned starter at first base after compiling a slash of .321/.375/.512 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) in 49 games over the final two months.
Weeks, too, is a lock. The Mariners didn’t shell out a $2 million guarantee for a “maybe.” And general manager Jack Zduriencik makes it clear that Bloomquist has a spot — if he’s healthy.
Miller’s offensive potential makes him the preferred choice at shortstop if he avoids the defensive yips that occasionally surfaced last season.
That’s a big “if,” though. The Mariners are quite willing to accept what would likely be less pop from Taylor in order to get a reliable glove at shortstop.
How that competition plays out could affect the rest of the roster because Miller, due to his versatility, could still make the final 25 as a reserve — particularly if Bloomquist isn’t 100 percent.
Taylor is more likely to return to Triple-A Tacoma.
Bloomquist will be closely watched. If back in form, he can play everywhere on the diamond — including a backup at short if Miller wins the job, and a backup at first to Morrison.
Minor league invitee Shawn O’Malley can play short, which means he could get a look if Bloomquist isn’t full-go. Weeks makes an unlikely backup at short, but he is likely to see time at first.
And everyone is interested to see how Montero looks.
HELP IF NEEDED
Taylor would be a quick recall option at Tacoma if Miller wins the shortstop job — and (possibly) vice versa — but keep an eye on Ketel Marte, a 21-year-old who finished last season with the Rainiers.
A year from now, Marte, a switch-hitter, could be a strong candidate to be the starting shortstop.
The future might also be glimpsed in D.J. Peterson, the club’s first-round pick in 2013 who is also in big-league camp for the first time. He is likely to shift, increasingly, from third to first and also looms as a possible major leaguer in 2016.
Any injury to Seager or Morrison could bring Carlos Rivero into the picture. A nine-year pro acquired from Boston on waivers, he had a big winter season in Venezuela.