Lost amid all the hubbub of FanFest this weekend came a few pieces of news regarding the Mariners' outfield. First, Endy Chavez was officially signed to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Second, the Mariners are close to bringing Franklin Gutierrez back, also on a minor league deal. These are low risk, no-brainer moves that give the Mariners much needed outfield depth.
Last week, Matt took a look at what we can expect from Endy Chavez and nothing has really changed since then. Chavez was perfectly replacement level last year over 80 games (57 starts). He probably won't surpass his 97 wRC+ from last year but, if Endy is sees any time at the major league level this year there are a bunch of other things that have gone wrong. He's a security blanket for the Mariners -- a known quantity who is liked by management and his teammates. He'll have a bunch of fun with Felix, Cano, and the rest of the guys in Spring Training and then head to Tacoma to mentor the kids and wait for disaster to strike.
The ghost of Franklin Gutierrez is much less predictable. He sat out all of last year trying to get his body right after being wrecked by his gastrointestinal . In his last major league action he surprisingly hit 10 home runs in just 151 plate appearances. He played 10 games in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason. He hit a home run in his first at-bat and ended up with a slash line of .222/.275/.526.
Guti turns 32 at the end of February. It would be the feel good story of the year if he was able to put everything together and resume his major league career. However, there is no way to know what to expect from Gutierrez in 2015. The last time the Mariners signed an outfielder who had missed an entire year due to injury, he slashed .203/.271/.319 in 68 games. Guti certainly won't be mistaken for a starter. If he's fully recovered or fully able to manage his stomach issues, he could be an option if Austin Jackson can't put it together or serve as the right-handed portion of the right field platoon if Justin Ruggiano doesn't pan out.
That's mainly what Chavez and Gutierrez represent: options. The Mariners have eight outfielders on their 40-man roster -- seven of whom will be either on the active roster or possibly see time with the major league club at some point this year. Throw Chavez and Gutierrez on to that pile too. Ideally, we won't have to see them in Mariner uniforms during the regular season.