Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners’ roster for next season is nearly in place

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipto is still looking for a free-agent reliever...but not much else.
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipto is still looking for a free-agent reliever...but not much else. AP

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Take a good look at the Mariners’ roster as baseball industry disperses from its annual Winter Meetings. Next year’s club is pretty much in place.

"The offensive club is kind of what you see is what you’ll get," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "We like the group we have on the field. There might be a small twist, but nothing super significant there.

"The pitching staff, we still have some tweaks to make, but nothing that changes the world. This is our team."

That team resulted from a frenetic overhaul in the 10-plus weeks since Dipoto became general manager. It crystallized into its-near final form this week in three trades prior to Thursday’s departure from the Opryland hotel.

"It’s a product of design," Dipoto said. "We wanted to get out in front of the market a little bit. Two, just in going through the process of preparing for the interview, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do.

"We laid a plan in place, and then we got after it."

That plan saw the Mariners move 41 players on or off their 40-man roster since Dipoto took command. The 19 acquisitions consist of 12 players acquired in seven trades, four free-agent signings and three waiver claims.

"I think it was critical to be earlier to the market," he said, "because we did intend to make a larger-scale change. We’ve talked a lot about what we wanted to do around that core group of players.

"About raising the floor. About building depth. To do that requires volume, and the easiest time to access volume is when there’s volume available.

"If you wait into December and January to do that, there are less bodies on the dance floor. When you go ask for the dance partner, there are fewer to choose from."

Here’s the all-but-complete dance card:

Catcher (2 expected on 25-man roster): Chris Iannetta and Steve Clevenger. Mike Zunino seems headed for Tacoma barring a remarkable spring or an injury to Iannetta and/or Clevenger.

First base (2): Adam Lind and Jesus Montero. At this point, it appears Montero would need to play his way off the club.

Second base: Robinson Cano.

Shortstop: Ketel Marte. He "earned that right," Dipoto said, "with the finish to his season last year."

Third base: Kyle Seager.

Utility infielder: Will choose one from a group of Chris Taylor, Luis Sardinas and Shawn O’Malley. Taylor and Sardinas rate a slight initial edge because they are viewed as better defensive shortstops than O’Malley.

Outfield (5): Nori Aoki and Leonys Martin will be the primary starters in left and center. Nelson Cruz will play right or serve as the designated hitter. Seth Smith and Franklin Gutierrez will platoon by playing right or DH.

Rotation (5): Felix Hernandez, Wade Miley, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton and Nate Karns. Backup possibilities include Mike Montgomery, Anthony Bass and Vidal Nuno.

Bullpen (7): There could be some adjustments here because the Mariners expect to add at least one more arm — probably a free agent capable of competing with Joaquin Benoit as the closer.

Charlie Furbush, if healthy, projects as the primary lefty setup reliever. Current favorites for the other spots are Justin De Fratus, Evan Scribner, Tony Zych, Nuno and Bass.

The latter three have options remaining.

"Right now," Dipoto said, "the bullpen is our focus, and that (anticipated addition) will come through some combination of major-league and minor-league free agency.

"I don’t envision anything on the trade market. But if the opportunity arises, we’ll take advantage if we can."

Beyond that? Not much.

"The roster has been settled," Dipoto said. "We did turn over a lot of the roster. It should now slow quite significantly.

"We have made quite a few minor-league pickups who will be non-roster invites. Guys with some major-league experience who can beef up our Triple-A depth and protect us in back of the major-league club."