Today the Mariners announced that C Joe Hudson, RHP Seth Frankoff, RHP Brady Lail, and C Joseph Odom were all outrighted off the 40-man roster and sent to Triple-A Tacoma. That puts the 40-man roster at 34 players, currently.
Hudson and Lail each elected free agency, meaning they won’t be back with the team unless they elect to re-sign with the Mariners on a minor-league deal. Odom, one of the longer-tenured Mariners minor leaguers, and Frankoff, who recently bought a home in the Seattle area, are likely to remain with the organization.
The move clears space on the 40-man roster in advance of MLB’s roster deadline, one week following the conclusion of the World Series, when players on the 60-day IL have to be transferred to the 40-man roster or put on waivers. For the Mariners, that means adding back C Tom Murphy, OF Mitch Haniger, and RHP Andres Muñoz (acquired in the Austin Nola trade), for sure. They will also need to make decisions about adding back other players from the 60-day IL, including LHP Taylor Guilbeau, RHP Gerson Bautista, RHP Matt Magill, LHP Nestor Cortes, and RHP Carl Edwards. Magill, assuming his medicals are clear, seems like an easy decision to add as he is only Arb-2 this winter and would have been one of the Mariners’ better trade chips at the deadline assuming he’d stayed healthy. Bautista, who looked like he’d taken a step forward with his command in Spring Training before getting hurt, is also a strong candidate to be added, as is Guilbeau, who has gotten plenty of looks with the big club since being acquired from Washington and is left-handed. Cortés and Edwards Jr. are trickier calls and candidates to be non-tendered.
If you’re a math whiz, you can see there’s more names on that list than spots freed on the 40-man. More space will be opened once Hirano becomes a free agent and the Mariners likely give Dee Gordon his $1M buyout rather than pay him $14M to be a bench player. Other players the Mariners think they can sneak through waivers—like LHP Aaron Fletcher, who had a rough go of it in his MLB debut, or RHP Walker Lockett, who is Walker Lockett—will likely be outrighted as well to create space over the coming weeks.
The team will need that space in order to add players to protect them from the Rule 5 draft prior to the November 20th deadline. OF Taylor Trammell is a clear must-add, as is RHP Juan Then, but beyond that things are murkier. RHP Sam Delaplane, who got some national attention after a strong AFL performance in 2019, seems like a slam-dunk to add, but reportedly had some troubling velocity declines at the alternate site and never got his shot in Seattle this season. The next two likeliest candidates are players the Mariners puzzlingly opted not to bring to the alternate training site: RHP Wyatt Mills and INF Joe Rizzo. LHP Raymond Kerr and RHP Scott Boches are also Rule-5 eligible; although under-the-radar enough as to make them unlikely to be snagged, both can run their fastballs into the upper 90s regularly and are the kind of player many clubs target in the Rule 5.