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Ariel Miranda optioned to Tacoma, Mariners caught right-handed

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I breathed a sigh of long relief after coming up with this title.

MLB: Spring Training-Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels
“I hope you enjoy Tacoma.” “Espero que disfruten del tercer lugar.”
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

As Opening Day approaches, (nine days) the Mariners’ major league roster continues to thin. Right before game time a somewhat surprising move was made for the second straight day.

The role of Ariel Miranda has been a question mark all offseason. His value would be best served if he can be an effective starter. He was a strikeout machine in Cuba and had success in Seattle down the stretch last year, albeit outperforming some of his peripherals. Miranda hasn’t had great success this spring, allowing a 1.64 WHIP, a 6.14 ERA, and just 10 strikeouts in 14.2 innings. His ability to elevate his velocity from his usual low 90s to 95-97 on occasion is nonetheless tantalizing as a starter. It’s more realistic, however, that maximizing that intensity could be best done by bringing him in from the bullpen. While keeping him on the MLB roster as a long reliever/spot starter seemed likely, Seattle seems committed to giving him as much work as a starter as possible.

Catcher Sebastian Valle was also sent to minor league camp, which is not a surprise. Miranda’s demotion opens the door for a few players. With Scott Servais saying he’ll “use the bullpen as the bullpen next week,” and “bring in guys situationally,” it seems that LHPs Nick Hagadone and James Pazos, both of whom have low to mid-90s fastballs and electric stuff, are frontrunners for roster spots. RHP Chris Heston may also be in the long relief conversation to start the season, though if the team goes with an 8-man bullpen out the gate as has been surmised, a designated long reliever is less essential.