With the additions of Nelson Cruz, Justin Ruggiano and Seth Smith, the 2015 Seattle Mariners roster is nearly complete.

Seattle did a nice job of addressing its major needs while only adding payroll and trading marginal prospects. At the very least, this team looks ready to contend for a playoff spot.

With a few minor tweaks, the Mariners can contend for even more. Any remaining roster battles will be settled in spring training, but Seattle has a few things to accomplish before pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 20.


Sign a left-handed reliever

Lloyd McClendon did a nice job of managing Seattle’s bullpen last season by avoiding relying too much on matchups and defined roles. Still, the Mariners would like to add another left-handed specialist before the spring, as Charlie Furbush is currently the only returning lefty reliever.

Rule 5 selection David Rollins and waiver-wire addition Edgar Olmos are likely the next left-handers in line. Relievers can be volatile from year to year, so going with one of the young, inexpensive options is not a bad idea.

Even so, Seattle’s best move right now might be re-signing Joe Beimel. Bob Dutton of The Tacoma News Tribune reported last month that the Mariners were interested in bringing back the veteran after he posted a 2.20 ERA (4.18 FIP) in 45 innings.

Beimel seems unlikely to pitch at quite the same level at 37 years old, but he’ll be cheap and it would be nice to have another lefty with some major league experience. If Beimel struggles, the Mariners would have Olmos or Rollins waiting in Triple-A.


Look for depth in the outfield and at first base

Seattle’s starting lineup appears to be set for 2015 after trading for Smith last week. What the Mariners need now is some bench depth.

Two areas, in particular, stand out as weak in terms of depth: the outfield and first base. The Mariners have a capable starting outfield, but it’s dependent on Dustin Ackley continuing his 2014 second-half surge and Austin Jackson successfully bouncing back from his poor performance after the trade deadline.

First base is even more of a concern. While Logan Morrison earned the starting job by posting a 127 wRC+ in the second half last year, he’s been inconsistent and injury-prone throughout his career.

If Morrison goes down for an extended period of time, the Mariners would likely have to turn to Jesus Montero or hope prospects D.J. Peterson and Patrick Kivlehan develop quickly. It seems likely that the Mariners will need 30-plus games from another first baseman, and the current replacement options are not appealing.

An ideal addition would be a right-handed first baseman who could be stashed in Triple-A at the beginning of the season if necessary. Allen Craig is also still out there as a potentially interesting trade option.

Although Craig’s poor 2014 season and foot problems are very concerning, he’s a good buy-low candidate who won’t cost much beyond some added payroll. Craig could shield Morrison from left-handers and fill in as an outfielder in an emergency.

Of course, the Mariners don’t need Craig badly enough where they should give up anyone of much value to acquire him. Erasmo Ramirez could be used as part of a package to acquire some depth, as he is out of minor league options and figures to be shopped around before the season.


Figure out the shortstop situation

The Mariners don’t necessarily need to firmly commit to either Brad Miller or Chris Taylor before the season starts. Both can exist on the 25-man roster, and Seattle may choose to platoon the two.

Miller should have the upper hand for now, as he has much more power potential. Still, Taylor’s defense and baserunning make him a valuable player, even if he is just a singles hitter.

Even if they don’t officially name a starter, the Mariners need to have some idea for a plan at shortstop so they can properly manage their bench going into spring training.

If Miller indeed gets the nod, would the Mariners be willing to use a 25-man roster spot on a player who can only play shortstop with a thin bench? Dutton indicates Seattle may send Taylor back to Triple-A if that were the case.

Miller needs to get as many reps in the outfield as possible if the Mariners decide to platoon the position or start Taylor. Miller could add more value to the bench as the fifth outfielder than Stefen Romero or James Jones.

All stats via FanGraphs.com unless otherwise noted.

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