Willie Bloomquist is signing with the Mariners on a two-year deal for somewhere between $5-6 million. If you missed the news and reaction, you can read it here.
Now that Bloomquist has guaranteed himself a roster spot, it's time to examine the potential impact of everyone else on the roster. Bloomquist joins Kyle Seager, Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, and Dustin Ackley to form a crowded five-man group of infielders at 3B/SS/2B. Something has to give. Let's examine what this means for the Mariners in 2014.
- One of these three things is going to happen. Dustin Ackley or Nick Franklin is getting traded, Dustin Ackley is staying in the outfield, or Nick Franklin is starting 2014 in AAA. If I had to wager a guess, I'd say that #1 is the most likely scenario. The Mariners are now full of infielders, Ackley hit well in the second half and can't realistically stay in the outfield with that defense/arm unless they completely whiff on acquiring enough bats in the outfield, and Franklin has more trade value than Ackley. I can't see the Mariners pushing Franklin back to AAA. This is going to be the most interesting development. There's also an outside chance that Brad Miller could be traded, but Franklin and Bloomquist are both really poor defenders at shortstop. Who knows if this team really cares.
- All talk of Kyle Seager shifting back to second base can officially die, if it hasn't already. The Mariners now employ three other capable defenders at 2B, and Seager is locked in at third base. He seems to be a virtual lock to continue his every day status at the position.
- Carlos Triunfel isn't going to break camp as the team's utility guy, and he might not be around much longer. He didn't show enough in 2013, and while he's still relatively young (24 next year), his former top prospect status isn't going to save him. He'll probably be removed from the 40-man roster soon, and if the Mariners want their best shot of keeping him, they'll wait until Spring Training to do so when other 40-man rosters are full. Either way, there's a pretty good chance he won't make it that long.
- The Mariners are prepared to lose Ty Kelly. The super-patient Kelly was the return for Eric Thames, and they chose not to protect him in the upcoming Rule 5 draft. I profiled Kelly back in October, and his ridiculous plate patience is exactly the kind of batter profile many teams will look to target. Kelly plays third base and second base, but he's pretty bad at both. So is Willie Bloomquist, but...
- This makes the team more likely to use a platoon combination at first base or DH. Bloomquist can cover so many positions that the team can now actually afford to carry almost as many DHs as they did in 2013, so that trotting out whatever three-man combination at 1B/DH won't have to result in guys like Raul Ibanez playing in the field every day. There is some value in flexibility in that regard. Of course, the Mariners will have to correctly structure their roster to take advantage of it, and that's probably not going to happen.
- Bloomquist is probably going to play. A lot. He doesn't come into the season as a guy targeted for a ton of starts, but things always go wrong, and he'll be the guy to fill in. Any time somebody misses a game with illness, or something that's flared up, I fully expect McClendon to go to Bloomquist more often that not, because grit. I wouldn't be surprised to see him get in 100 games this year, in one way or another.
More from Lookout Landing