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Analysis: Breaking down the Mariners' 2020 opening-day roster by position group

Analysis: Breaking down the Mariners' 2020 opening-day roster by position group

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Mariners roster

The Seattle Mariners' Dee Gordon tosses a ball in practice

It was a long wait of 120 days since the Mariners’ original deadline to name their opening-day roster of 26 players to start a 162-game season at T-Mobile Park on March 26 vs. the Texas Rangers.

On Thursday morning, general manager Jerry Dipoto submitted his 30-man roster for a 60-game season — a day before the Mariners open this coronavirus-delayed season Friday at Houston’s Minute Maid Park against the American League champion Astros.

In 15 days, the Mariners will have reduce that active roster to 28 players. And 15 days after that, the roster will drop down to 26 players for the remainder of the season. The expanded rosters, along with a three-player taxi squad that works out and travels with the team on the road, were created as baseball tries to navigate this shortened season and keep players healthy after a three-week training period called “summer camp.”

Given the Mariners’ rebuilding plan with a focus on development more than their record, Dipoto took a creative approach to the roster, which includes just two true outfielders, four utility players, 11 relievers and a six-man pitching rotation.

It’s unconventional and likely to change often in the coming weeks, which would be typical of Dipoto’s tenure in Seattle.

Starting Rotation (6)

No. Name B-T HT WT DOB 7 M. Gonzales L/L 6’1” 197 02/16/92 99 T. Walker R/R 6’4” 235 08/13/92 18 Y. Kikuchi L/L 6’0” 200 06/17/91 49 K. Graveman R/R 6’2” 200 12/21/90 33 J. Sheffield L/L 5’10” 195 05/13/96 35 J. Dunn R/R 6’2” 185 09/22/95

Notes: This group has been set since the start of spring training and hasn’t given the Mariners much reason to second-guess it. Pitchers are unlikely to be pushed beyond 85 pitches in their first two starts.

Despite having veteran pitchers in Graveman and Walker, who have missed basically the last two seasons due to Tommy John surgery, and two rookies in Sheffield and Dunn, who have less than 10 combined MLB starts, the biggest unknown is still Kikuchi.

After a strong spring training, he was inconsistent in summer camp despite throwing extensively during the shutdown. He simplified his mechanics and shortened his arm swing this offseason in hopes of finding consistent velocity and command. But if Kikuchi continues to change his approach based on results, he will never have success.

Bullpen (11)

No. Name B-T HT WT Date of Birth

53 Dan Altavilla R/R 5’ 11” 226 09/08/1992

65 Brandon Brennan R/R 6’ 4” 207 07/26/1991

30 Nestor Cortes R/L 5’ 11” 210 12/10/1994

16 Carl Edwards Jr. R/R 6’ 3” 170 09/03/1991

37 Zac Grotz R/R 6’ 2” 195 02/17/1993

61 Matt Magill R/R 6’ 3” 210 11/10/1989

52 Nick Margevicius L/L 6’ 5” 220 06/18/1996

38 Anthony Misiewicz R/L 6’ 1” 200 11/01/1994

55 Yohan Ramirez R/R 6’ 4” 190 05/06/1995

47 Taylor Williams S/R 5’ 11” 185 07/21/1991

Notes: Their best reliever — Austin Adams — isn’t ready to come off the 45-day injured list after pushing his surgically repaired knee too much during camp. Their top free-agent acquisition — Yoshihisa Hirano — will start the season on the injured list after testing positive for COVID-19 delayed his entry into workouts.

Of this group, their most-proven reliever is right-hander Bryan Shaw, who was signed as a free agent earlier this week, after being released by the Rockies with one year left on his contract. He struggled so much in Colorado, posting a plus-5.00 each of the last two seasons, the Rockies were willing to pay him more than $5 million to play elsewhere.

Looking at the pitching profiles, this group doesn’t throw a ton of strikes and many have had issues with walks. Seattle is also carrying three long relievers to offset the lower pitch limits for starters early in the season.

Catchers (2)

No. Name B/T HT WT DOB

57 Joe Hudson R/R 6’ 0” 210 05/21/1991

23 Austin Nola R/R 6’ 0” 197 12/28/1989

Notes: Starting catcher Tom Murphy was diagnosed with a fractured metatarsal in his left foot and will start the season on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to July 20.

That means Nola, who converted from shortstop to catcher in 2017, will start the bulk of the games. Hudson has logged plenty of minor-league games behind the plate and is solid defensively. Still, Nola and Hudson have started only four MLB games each at catcher.

Infielders (5)

No. Name B/T HT WT DOB

3 J.P. Crawford L/R 6’ 2” 199 01/11/1995

4 Shed Long Jr. L/R 5’ 8” 184 08/22/1995

15 Kyle Seager L/R 6’ 0” 216 11/03/1987

20 Daniel Vogelbach L/R 6’ 0” 270 12/17/1992

12 Evan White R/L 6’ 3” 220 04/26/1996

Notes: This group was set in place during the offseason. Long and Crawford scuffled a little during spring training. Long’s timing on his swing was off and he looked a little slow in the field. But he’s going to see extensive playing time to make the second-base job his going forward.

Crawford has shown more leadership qualities and has continued to follow infield coach Perry Hill’s teachings via Zoom and phone calls. White is the best defensive first baseman to wear a Mariners uniform since John Olerud. But his first at-bat Friday will be his first at the MLB level. He’ll be jumping directly from Class AA to MLB.

Outfielders (2)

No. Name B/T HT WT DOB

1 Kyle Lewis R/R 6’ 4” 205 07/13/1995

0 Mallex Smith L/R 5’ 10” 180 05/06/1993

Notes: Jake Fraley and Braden Bishop played their way out of roster consideration during summer camp. While this season is about getting young players MLB experience, the Mariners didn’t feel it was fair to either player to put them out in MLB games given how much they struggled over the last weeks.

Fraley’s timing has been off since arriving in Seattle while Bishop still doesn’t look like the player he was before suffering a ruptured spleen last season. He’s tentative at the plate and admittedly questioning his approach/swing and lacking confidence. Smith won’t play vs. left-handed starters too often. Lewis, who looks healthy and running better than ever, will slide to center field on those days.

Utility (4)

No. Name B/T HT WT DOB

9 Dee Gordon L/R 5’ 11” 166 04/22/1988

10 Tim Lopes R/R 5’ 11” 180 06/24/1994

26 José Marmolejos L/L 6’ 2” 239 01/02/1993

25 Dylan Moore R/R 6’ 0” 185 08/02/1992

Notes: Marmolejos, who signed as a minor-leaguer, will likely start in left field in the opening-day lineup against Houston’s Justin Verlander. When manager Scott Servais said Wednesday he would be comfortable playing Marmolejos in left field in parks with smaller left fields (like Houston), it was apparent he would make the team.

Marmolejos is normally a first baseman but started 140 minor-league games in left field. He is expected to split time with Tim Lopes in left. Starting in spring training, both players hit their way on to the team, showing solid approaches at the plate and quality knowledge of the strike zone.

Gordon will fill in at shortstop, second base and occasionally left field. Moore, the most versatile of the group, will also move around the field, playing wherever needed.

Traveling Taxi Squad (3)

No. Name Pos. B/T HT WT DOB

45 Taylor Guilbeau LHP L/L 6’ 4” 190 05/12/1993

28 Sam Haggerty UT S/R 5-11 175 05/26/1994

54 Joseph Odom C R/R 6-2 214 01/09/1992

Notes: Odom didn’t participate in summer camp despite getting an invite to MLB spring training. With Murphy’s injury, the Mariners needed a more experienced catcher to sit on the taxi squad. He’s a solid receiver, who is good a framing pitches, and has worked with most of the young pitchers on the roster. Guilbeau would have made the opening-day roster if not for Shaw’s acquisition.

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