With Opening Day a week and a half away, it’s time to lock in on who the Mariners will be trotting out in teal this year, and who is likeliest to provide the depth behind them. These pieces will be tierings more than in-depth dives. If you’re looking for more detailed looks at the players on the 40-man roster, our 40 in 40 series is the place to go. Additionally, if you’re looking for quick hits on the Non-Roster Invitees, we’ve got those too!
We’ll start behind the dish, where a recent roster move all but guaranteed the result we’d expected.
The Post-Hype Star-ter - Mike Zunino
Last year we saw two weeks of Zunino so discombobulated that he was demoted once again to AAA, subjecting us to repeated Tuffynings. When he returned, he was a new man yet again, and after finishing last year as one of the best catchers in all of baseball, his continued success from March 29th thru October will be pivotal for the Mariners.
The Backup - Mike Marjama
The Mariners seemed pretty confident in this choice from their extensive utilization of Marjama as a PR agent this offseason, but his performance also backed it up this spring. Thus far, Marjama has an OPS of 1.019 through 34 PAs and, more translatably, has seemed capable defensively. While Marjama lacks the veteran presence of Carlos Ruiz, he’ll be about $4 million cheaper and even has a little positional versatility in a pinch, having experience at both 3B and 1B in the minors.
The Other Catcher on the 40-man - David Freitas
Freitas was demoted to AAA-Tacoma over the weekend and re-assigned to minor league camp. He and Marjama share many of the same characteristics, including right-handedness, minimal MLB experience, and, prior Freitas’ birthday on Sunday, being 28 years old. Freitas boasts some heavy platoon-splits but also carries a solid defensive reputation. He’ll be the first guy to get the call if injury or ineffectiveness strikes.
The Player-Coach - Tuffy Gosewisch
Earlier this offseason I called Tuffy’s time with the Mariners in 2017 one of the worst in MLB history, and I stand by it. Thankfully, Tuffy’s role appears to have shifted this year. He’ll start the season in Tacoma along with Freitas, but without a 40-man spot he’s at least the 4th guy in line. Gosewisch has drawn rave reviews as a leader and a defender, so while he’s unlikely to spend much, if any time with the major league club, the team seems intent on maintaining his veteran presence. That is likely due, in no small part, to the expected turnover the Tacoma pitching staff will see as Seattle shuffles their deck to squeeze productive inning juice out of whoever’ arm is ripest.
The Field - Joe Odom & a mystery
Joe Odom was a minor-league Rule 5 draft pick who has yet to eclipse 20 PAs at the AAA level. It seems likely he begins the season in AA-Arkansas, and if the Mariners are in a situation where they need to use him in 2018, they are attempting to climb a waterfall without a paddle, a pickax, or a jetpack. More likely, a trade, free agent signing, or waiver claim would happen than seeing Seattle dig past Tuffy for MLB innings behind the dish. What you see above is what we’ll get.
Thankfully, Mike Zunino is Good.