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Mariners Opening Day Depth Projection: First Base

I wish I had a clearer answer for you.

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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!

Yesterday we took care of the catchers, today it’s the cursed land that is first base.

The One Who Dwarfs Nelson Cruz - Ryon Healy

The acquisition of Ryon Healy has long seemed peculiar, although not without merit. Healy had the 5th-lowest walk rate among qualified hitters last year, which isn’t what you usually want from a first baseman. He has, thus far, obliterated lefty pitching to the tune of a 135 wRC+ and a .314/.343/.534 line. While his 102 wRC+ line against righties is nothing to scoff at, his struggles were steeper last year, prompting many (or at least me) to wonder if Healy might fit best as a younger Danny Valencia, being paired with a lefty bat to insure Seattle has a mashing pinch-hitter at all times and maintains a modicum of positional flexibility on their bench regardless. Thus far, however, everything out of the Mariners camp indicates they expect RyON to be an everyday starter. I hope their faith is well-founded.

The Jason Giambi Caricature - Daniel Vogelbach

This time last year, Daniel Vogelbach was officially losing the job that was his to lose - the larger half of a 1B platoon with the original Danny Valencia. This spring, boasting torrid spring stats (meh), improved confidence (good but tough to quantify), and a slightly retooled swing (now we’re talking), Vogey has blasted his way into a likely Opening Day roster spot as the Mariners intend to bring just four starting pitchers, eight relievers, and 13 position players to break camp and take advantage of a favorable early schedule. What that role looks like for the 25 year-old Vogey is uncertain. The team could insert a platoon under the cover of working Healy back to health slowly, but it’s tough to say if they’re willing to do so. Regardless, barring some major surprise, Healy and Vogelbach seem likely to break camp with the Mariners as their only first baseman, with the winner of the Andrew Romine/Taylor Motter/Gordon Beckham(???) sweepstakes and former minors 1B Mike Marjama as the likely emergency backups.

The Potential Re-Gift - Mike Ford

As a Rule-5 draft pick, if Mike Ford is not on the 25-man roster on Opening Day, the Yankees will have the option to reclaim him. I will simply say that this would break my heart. I’m as big a Mike Ford advocate as you’ll find on this coast, and despite his relatively brief time in AAA, feel he remains a strong option. His spring has heated up of late, and his athleticism and versatility, while still trailing Healy, is ahead of Vogelbach’s. Still, it seems unlikely Ford cracks the Opening Day roster ahead of the other options. Seattle could and should orchestrate a deal with the Yankees to insure they retain Ford for good, as he can work on both his bat and his future as the next Seth Smith in Tacoma. If not, Seattle would find themselves thin at yet another position.

The Technicality - Cameron Perkins

Cameron Perkins has a swing that makes me uneasy and is primarily an outfielder, but he merits inclusion here simply because, beyond the aforementioned utility-men, he is the only other player on the 40-man roster with MLB experience at 1B. If he starts there in 2018, things will have almost assuredly gone wrong.

The Local Kid - Matt Hague

After an extended look in early spring with both Healy and Vogelbach ailing, Hague has taken a backseat, not surprising for a 32 year-old journeyman. Having been in minor league camp for over a week, it seems likely Hague will wind up in Tacoma this year, likely mixing in at 1B, 3B, and DH as he has since 2008 across nearly every level of baseball. Unlike his catching counterpart, Tuffy, it’s difficult to imagine the veteran being a black hole should his name get called, but his lack of power has been a major reason he hasn’t had a big league plate appearance since 2015. For the 4th or 5th guy on the list, however, the Mariners could do worse than the Kentwood/University of Washington product.