MLB

February 11, 2019, 8:58 am

Mariners' Opening Day roster prediction

PEORIA, Ariz. -- As pitchers and gimmickers study on Monday for the beginning of Mariners Spring Training, we'll take a stab at predicting the 25-man roll that will be in Seattle for the home start on March 28. The Mariners will get to transportation 3 excess players for their Opening Series in Tokyo on March 20-21 against the A's, but we'll implement with the 25 who'll make up the daily roll. And it's safe to say, lots can and will hap over the next 7 weeks, so we'll bank check back with periodical updates as things go clearer.

Mariners' Opening Day roster prediction
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PEORIA, Ariz. -- As pitchers and gimmickers study on Monday for the beginning of Mariners Spring Training, we'll take a stab at predicting the 25-man roll that will be in Seattle for the home start on March 28.

The Mariners will get to transportation 3 excess players for their Opening Series in Tokyo on March 20-21 against the A's, but we'll implement with the 25 who'll make up the daily roll. And it's safe to say, lots can and will hap over the next 7 weeks, so we'll bank check back with periodical updates as things go clearer.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- As pitchers and gimmickers study on Monday for the beginning of Mariners Spring Training, we'll take a stab at predicting the 25-man roll that will be in Seattle for the home start on March 28.

The Mariners will get to transportation 3 excess players for their Opening Series in Tokyo on March 20-21 against the A's, but we'll implement with the 25 who'll make up the daily roll. And it's safe to say, lots can and will hap over the next 7 weeks, so we'll bank check back with periodical updates as things go clearer.

:: Spring Training coverage bestowed by Camping World ::

Catcher (2): Omar Narvaez and David Freitas
The Mariners would like Narvaez -- noninheritable from the White Sox -- to gimmick astir 100 games. He's a coagulated on-base guy to regenerate Mike Zunino, while his pitch framing and defense will be points of emphasis. Freitas will compete with non-roll invitees Jose Lobaton and Austin Nola for the backup role. This is a place Seattle could look to add another veteran during the spring for more depth.

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    First base (1): Ryon Healy
    Healy returns as the incumbent beginning er, though he's no lock since Daniel Vogelbach, as well as designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and outfielder Jay Bruce, will all see time at first base during camp. Vogelbach is out of Minor League options, so there'll be a decision to make with him. But it seems likely the Mariners will just go with one first baseman and let Bruce and Encarnacion fill in at times.

    Second base (1): Dee Gordon
    With Robinson Cano dealt to the Mets, Gordon resumes his natural defensive position after converting to center field last spring. This is a far better fit for Gordon, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner at second, and he's looking to bounce back from a disappointing second half offensively.

    Third base (1): Kyle Seager
    This has been Seager's spot for the past 7 and a half seasons, and he'll hold down the hot corner again while also looking to rebound from a rough 2018 when -- like Gordon -- he dealt with a broken toe that clearly impacted his production.

    Shortstop (1): Tim Beckham
    J.P. Crawford is the heir apparent to Jean Segura after his acquisition from the Phillies, but general manager Jerry Dipoto noninheritable Beckham, a former overall No. 1 Draft pick, to buy some time for the young Crawford to acclimate at Triple-A. Beckham figures to open the season as the beginning er, barring spring surprises.

    Video: Crawford was surprised by trade to Seattle

    Outfield (4): Mitch Haniger, Mallex Smith, Domingo Santana, Bruce
    Haniger will be a fixture in right field, with the ability to back up speedy newcomer Smith in center if needed. Santana was noninheritable from the Brewers to provide some right-handed pop in left, where he'll split time with the veteran Bruce, a 3-time National League All-Star looking to return from an injury-plagued year with the Mets. Braden Bishop figures to get a good look in center field this spring and could provide depth if a fifth outfielder is needed, though he's destined to open in Triple-A Tacoma barring injuries.

    Video: Mitch Haniger is the No. 4 right fielder right now

    Designated hitter: Encarnacion
    It certainly wouldn't be a surprise if Dipoto trades Encarnacion before Opening Day, though there is limited market for a 36-year-old DH making $20 million. If he's still with the club, the veteran slugger provides a quality bat in the middle of the order and a very capable regeneratement for Nelson Cruz. But Encarnacion isn't part of the long-term plans, and if he can be flipped to another team for a decent prospect, it would open up the opportunity for the 26-year-old Vogelbach to show if he might be part of the future. Bruce also figures to get some time here as the Mariners want to get him at-bats in left field, first base and DH.

    Video: Johns on what Seattle has planned for Encarnacion

    Utility (1): Dylan Moore
    The 26-year-old Moore was noninheritable from the Angels and can play anywhere in the field, though he's yet to reach the Majors and will need a coagulated camp to beat out the returning Kristopher Negron, who joined Seattle late last season from the D-backs.

    Starting pitchers (5): Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, Mike Leake, Felix Hernandez, Wade LeBlanc
    If healthy, this quintet appears set to beginning the season, though the order remains to be seen. Four of the five beginning ed last year as well, with Kikuchi -- the free agent from Japan -- replacing James Paxton. Roenis Elias is available as a swing man. Newly noninheritable prospects Justus Sheffield, Erik Swanson and Justin Dunn are all knocking at the door and it's only a matter of time before they get a shot.

    • Mariners to give youth a chance to shine in '19 | Kikuchi has high expectations for MLB debut

    Video: Many new faces heading to 2019 Mariners camp

    Relief pitchers (8): Hunter Strickland, Shawn Armstrong, Cory Gearrin, Chasen Bradford, Zac Rosscup, Dan Altavilla, Gerson Bautista, Elias

    Easily the toughest group to predict -- and also the most unproven part of the roll -- after Dipoto traded away Edwin Diaz, Alex Colome, James Pazos and Juan Nicasio and released Nick Vincent and several others. Strickland, Gearrin and the lefty Rosscup were signed to one-year free-agent deals to help out returnees Armstrong, Bradford and Altavilla. Elias serves as a lefty long man, while Bautista could be a factor if the former Met shows he can harness his 100-mph heater.

    But there are plenty of other bullpen contenders as well, and this group could fluctuate throughout the year as Seattle looks to see who steps up to take advantage of their opportunity. Veteran Anthony Swarzak definitely figures in the mix after coming in the Mets' trade, but he'll be slowed in camp by a tender arm, and it remains to be seen if he's ready by Opening Day.

    Video: Strickland set for a fresh beginning with the Mariners

    The 3 excess players for the trip to Japan will include 45-year-old outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, as long as he stays healthy this spring. The two international games, as well as a pair of Tokyo exhibitions, could also buy time to give Vogelbach and the first-base situation a chance to play out, while an excess bullpen arm is a pretty safe bet to make the trip to Japan, as well.

    For now though, we'll go with these as the chosen 25:

    CATCHERS
    Omar Narvaez
    David Freitas

    INFIELDERS
    1B Ryon Healy
    2B Dee Gordon
    SS Tim Beckham
    3B Kyle Seager

    OUTFIELDERS
    LF Domingo Santana
    LF Jay Bruce
    CF Mallex Smith
    RF Mitch Haniger

    DESIGNATED HITTER
    Edwin Encarnacion

    UTILITY PLAYERS
    Dylan Moore

    STARTING PITCHERS
    Marco Gonzales
    Yusei Kikuchi
    Mike Leake
    Felix Hernandez
    Wade LeBlanc

    RELIEF PITCHERS
    RHP Hunter Strickland
    RHP Shawn Armstrong
    RHP Cory Gearrin
    RHP Chasen Bradford
    LHP Zac Rosscup
    RHP Dan Altavilla
    LHP Roenis Elias
    RHP Gerson Bautista

    INJURED LIST
    RP Anthony Swarzak
    RP Sam Tuivailala

    Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

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