With the MLB offseason winding down, most teams around the league have a solid idea of what their 25-man rosters will look like come Opening Day.

The Seattle Mariners made some critical improvements over the offseason and look ready to compete for a playoff spot. With the additions of Nelson Cruz, Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano, the Mariners have one of the strongest rosters in the American League on paper.

Only three starting positions remain up for grabs: shortstop, one spot in the rotation and one spot in the bullpen. The majority of roster battles in spring training will be for bench roles.

Seattle may not be done making moves, as it could use more depth at first base or the outfield. Bob Dutton of The News Tribune indicates that the Mariners might interested in re-signing Joe Beimel for that last bullpen spot.

As the roster currently stands, Seattle’s projected starting lineup looks strong while the bench looks weak.



1B Logan Morrison

2B Robinson Cano

SS Brad Miller

3B Kyle Seager

UTIL Willie Bloomquist


Cano and Seager are obvious locks, while Morrison won the starting first base job by posting a 127 wRC+ in the second half of 2014. The other two infield roster spots are yet to be decided.

General manager Jack Zduriencik indicated there was “no favorite right now” between Miller and Chris Taylor for the starting shortstop position, via Dutton

Seattle could platoon the two, but Miller likely has the slight edge due to his higher ceiling and ability to hit for power. The Mariners must then decide if Taylor should have the final bench spot or if it should go to Bloomquist.

Taylor clearly has more upside and Bloomquist is a 37-year-old coming off of major knee surgery. Still, the Mariners will probably favor Bloomquist’s versatility and might be hesitant to cut the veteran.

If Bloomquist’s recovery hits any setbacks, look for Taylor or utility man Carlos Rivero to get the last bench spot.

There’s also the fact that Bloomquist is one of the few depth players on the 40-man roster with even minimal experience at first base. Jesus Montero is also a possibility and fits a need as a right-handed first baseman, but he has quite a lot to prove before the organization will be willing to call him up.



LF Dustin Ackley

CF Austin Jackson

RF Seth Smith

OF Justin Ruggiano

OF/DH Nelson Cruz

OF James Jones


The top four outfielders are set, including what figures to be a fairly strict platoon in right field. Cruz won’t play the outfield unless it’s an emergency, leaving one more outfield bench position.

None of the current options are exactly appealing. As it stands, the competition will likely come down to Stefen Romero and James Jones.

Romero got off to an unimpressive start in the big leagues last year with a .192/.234/.299 line and -1.2 WAR in 72 games. Jones wasn’t much more impressive at the plate but has the decisive advantage due to his speed and base-stealing ability.

Seattle could use some more depth in the outfield. There isn’t much left in free agency, although the Mariners recently brought back Endy Chavez on a minor-league deal, per Dutton

One in-house option could be converting Miller to the outfield, which in turn might open up a bench spot for Taylor.



C Mike Zunino

C Jesus Sucre


The Mariners have put a lot on Zunino’s plate early in his career and could use an upgrade at backup catcher. Even so, Greg Johns of MLB.com reported last December that Seattle was happy with its current catching situation.

Sucre is regarded as a good defensive catcher, and his receiving ability was the reason the Mariners let go of John Buck last July. Defense is the most important trait for a backup catcher, so it’s not a pressing need, but Sucre is too much of a liability at the plate.

One more name to keep an eye on is intriguing prospect John Hicks. Hicks dominated the Arizona Fall League with a 153 wRC+ and shouldn’t need much more seasoning in Triple-A.


Starting Pitchers

SP Felix Hernandez

SP Hisashi Iwakuma

SP James Paxton

SP J.A. Happ

SP Taijuan Walker


The first three are locked in if healthy. Manager Lloyd McClendon all but guaranteed Happ a spot in the rotation at Seattle’s pre-spring training media conference, saying, “we didn’t acquire Happ to pitch out of the bullpen,” via Dutton. 

The fifth spot will be decided between Walker and Roenis Elias. Walker gets the edge due to his tremendous upside and Elias’ injury concerns, but the 26-year-old Cuban was impressive in his rookie year and has a place in the club’s future.

No team is going to make it through the year with only five starters, so Elias will get his shot eventually. The Mariners may also choose to keep him in the majors in a long-relief role.



CL Fernando Rodney

RHP Tom Wilhelmsen

LHP Charlie Furbush

RHP Yoervis Medina

RHP Danny Farquhar

RHP Dominic Leone

LHP David Rollins


Seattle will return the majority of what was an outstanding bullpen in 2014. Brandon Maurer was traded to the San Diego Padres and Beimel is still a free agent, but Seattle has the depth to replace those losses.

The biggest decision will be which left-hander makes the roster, as the Mariners will likely want one more lefty behind Furbush. Rollins, Edgar Olmos and Mike Kickham are among those who will battle for one spot in spring training.

Rollins has posted solid numbers in the minors and must stay on the active roster as a Rule 5 pick if Seattle wishes to retain him. Kickham was ranked by Baseball America as the San Francisco Giants‘ No.5 prospect just two years ago and could be a sneaky-good acquisition if he manages to reach his potential.

One more player with a chance to win a spot is Carson Smith, who looked a potentially dominant closer of the future in his September stint last year. It’s hard to see who Smith would beat out of spring training, but Medina’s job could be in jeopardy a little further down the line.

All stats via FanGraphs.com unless otherwise noted. 

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