Baseball is (almost) Back! Mariner Pitchers, Catchers Report
The new-look Seattle Mariners report to Peoria, Arizona this week.
Pitchers and catchers report today, while their first workout is tomorrow. The position players will join their teammates on Friday with the first full team-workout scheduled for Saturday.
MLB.com’s Greg Johns predicted the Mariners Opening Day Roster, and there are a ton of new faces.
Mike Zunino is gone. He was traded in the offseason to Tampa Bay. Omar Narvaez, who the Mariners acquired from the Chicago White Sox this offseason, and last year’s backup catcher, David Freitas, are the expected backstop replacements.
Ryon Healy and Daniel Vogelbach will likely compete for playing time at first base, but Johns believes leading DH-candidate Edwin Encarnacion and outfielder Jay Bruce could also see time as the first baseman. With Robinson Cano shipped to the Mets, Dee Gordon will return to second base.
No Jean Segura at shortstop leaves an interesting battle in the hole. Johns sees Tim Beckham as the Opening Day starter. However, Beckham is likely just a bridge to J.P Crawford, who the Mariners acquired from Philadelphia.
Kyle Seager and his big contract ($19.5 million) are back at third base.
In the outfield, the Mariners kept Mitch Haniger during the mass exodus of the roster this winter. Seattle acquired Mallex Smith, for the second time in two years, but he’s staying for now. The Mariners also traded Ben Gamel away to Milwaukee in exchange for Domingo Santana, who should be in the outfield rotation. Finally, the aforementioned Bruce will get time in the outfield as well.
Nelson Cruz was not re-signed, so the M’s are expected to use Edwin Encarnacion at the DH spot.
Four starting pitchers return from 2018, Felix Hernandez, Mike Leake, Marco Gonzalez and Wade LeBlanc. Yusei Kikuchi left Japan and signed with Seattle on Jan. 2. Barring injury, Kikuchi is expected to fill a spot in the five-man rotation.
The Mariners acquired Justus Sheffield, Erik Swanson and Justin Dunn this offseason as possible starters in the future.
Johns admits the bullpen is a tough spot to predict. He expects the returning reserve arms–Dan Altavilla, Roenis Elias, Chasen Bradford and Shawn Armstrong–to be on the Opening Day roster. Hunter Strickland, Cody Gearrin and Zac Rosscup signed this offseason and should join the returners.
Finally, Ichiro Suzuki is expected to join the team during their opening two-game series in Japan against Oakland, according to Johns.
Below is Greg Johns projected 25-man Opening Day Roster from MLB.com:
1B Ryon Healy
2B Dee Gordon
SS Tim Beckham
3B Kyle Seager
LF Domingo Santana
LF Jay Bruce
CF Mallex Smith
RF Mitch Haniger
RHP Hunter Strickland
RHP Shawn Armstrong
RHP Cory Gearrin
RHP Chasen Bradford
LHP Zac Rosscup
RHP Dan Altavilla
LHP Roenis Elias
RHP Gerson Bautista
RP Anthony Swarzak
RP Sam Tuivailala