The opening day roster is starting to take shape, and Abraham Almonte just became a virtual lock to start the season in Seattle. The Mariners have told outfielder Endy Chavez and catcher Humberto Quintero that they won't be making the team, and they're now both free agents.
The team reportedly hopes to keep both, but if they get a better offer they'll certainly move on. Update: Chavez has agreed to a minor league deal.
Chavez was the one guy who stood a chance at forcing Almonte down to AAA thanks to his experience, but even though Almonte has had a bad spring, he looks as though he's made the cut. Michael Saunders is a no-brainer. Excluding Almonte would leave Dustin Ackley and Willie Bloomquist as the team's only backups in center field, and I can't imagine the team wants to let them play there if they can avoid it. Almonte's in.
It also means that Stefen Romero has probably made the team as well, barring a late addition to the roster. Romero, Ackley, Almonte, Saunders, and Morrison are the only "outfielders" left in camp, and all of them stand to break camp with Willie Bloomquist backing up the infield. Romero will most likely see action against left-handed pitching in right field as he makes his major league debut. Pretty exciting for him.
The writing was on the wall for Quintero after the team signed John Buck to a guaranteed deal, but it would be nice if they could retain him in AAA. Last year proved how important catching depth was, and Quintero held his own in a limited backup role through the end of last season.
Keep track of all the transactions this week in this super group.