Spring Training truly begins a month from tomorrow on February 17th, though the baseball world will prematurely celebrate for pitchers and catchers on February 12th. It's alarmingly soon, considering how many players are still free agents, and how many god damn second basemen the Mariners have on their roster. There's so much work to do, no way to make sense of the current roster, and yet and everyone's waiting on Tanaka. The Mariners haven't done anything really dumb all off-season (irrational, perhaps), and now they've got to add about 10 wins in value in the next month if they seriously want to give themselves a shot at contention in 2014. Gulp.
In the mean time, there's a few news items trickling in, the first of which is Michael Saunders agreeing to be a Seattle Mariner for another year despite having no choice, getting $2.3 million before letting an arbitrator listen to the team tell him how much he stinks before inevitably awarding him the same amount of money. It's Saunders' first payday, after earning just a wee bit over the minimum for the past few years, so congrats to him. Arbitration settlements are always the oddest kind of news to report. BREAKING: A certain Mariner is still certainly a Mariner, and will now make much more money, which he was certain to receive.
What's more interesting is the list of 19 players who are going to be joining the Mariners at Spring Training, the non-roster invites, meaning they aren't on the 40-man roster. Usually full of older prospects and guys like Mark Prior, the M's batch doesn't have many of the latter, at least so far. It's a heavy on inexperience and light on veterans, though this list is sure to grow as the Mariners start throwing Kameron Loe-shaped noodles at the wall. Or maybe Mike Jacobs again.
There's one notable omission. Last year's first round pick D.J. Peterson is nowhere to be found, which is curious. You'd think he would be at full health after his jaw surgery, but the Mariners are holding him back, Anakin style. I would have figured, especially with first base open for the taking in the next few years, that Peterson would be at camp. You'd think the team would also want a closer look at Peterson's defense at third base and how it's progressed, so it's a bit mystifying why he isn't getting top instruction if he's healthy enough to receive it. There's also no Jabari Blash despite his destruction of the Southern League after his promotion.
The outfield list looks light, but that's in part due to the additions of James Jones, Stefan Romero, and Abraham Almonte to the 40-man roster. Julio Morbon, health permitting after breaking his leg in August, will be around as well, and Xavier Avery is still in the mix until he inevitably gets DFA'd for the remaining major league moves to come.
Roenis Elias is the guy I'm most interested to watch pitch. He's already 25 and hasn't progressed past AA, but he has an interesting background and I talked about his season extensively on the podcast with Generals broadcaster Chris Harris, who had high praise for the lefty. Carson Smith is everyone's favorite dark horse to end up in the bullpen out of camp, and Dominic Leone has been making quite a bit of noise himself as a guy who could make the leap straight from AA.
After the John Buck signing is finalized, at least 59 players are going to be at Spring Training, but more are certain to join. Get ready for noodle throwing!