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Mariners make first cuts of Spring, trim roster to 63 players

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“trim” roster being a relative term for These Unprecedented Times

Seattle Mariners Summer Workouts Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

When MLB set spring training rosters at a max of 75, the Mariners were one of the first teams to line up at the pitcher buffet and load up their plates. Unfortunately, other teams didn’t follow suit, and Seattle hasn’t been able to get all those pitchers into B squad games against other clubs as they’d hoped. Yesterday the Mariners made their first round of reductions from major-league camp:

Optioned to the “alternate site”:

  • RHPs Brandon Brennan, Wyatt Mills

Optioned to Triple-A Tacoma:

  • RHP Sam Delaplane

Re-assigned to MiLB camp:

  • RHPs Nick Duron, Emerson Hancock, George Kirby, Darren McCaughan, Jaime Schultz
  • LHP Brandon Williamson
  • Cs Carter Bins, Josh Morgan
  • INF Jordan Cowan

Things function a little bit differently with no minor-league camp to send players to; normally by now, backfield games are underway and players who are reassigned can go get competitive work in there, but with minor-league camp not starting up until after the big-leaguers leave, these players will have to be content with scrimmages and working out at the complex. NRIs not on the 40-man can still be brought up for big-league games, which includes everyone on this list except for Mills, Brennan, and Delaplane.

It’s a little troubling to see Brandon Brennan re-assigned out of major league camp. Brennan came out of the gates strong as the Mariners’ Rule 5 pick in 2019, but was slowed in June by a shoulder injury. He recovered to put a strong finish on his 2019 season, but 2020 was marked by similar injury concerns, this time an oblique strain that sidelined him for much of the season. He hasn’t been particularly effective this spring in limited action (two innings, four walks, three runs surrendered) and is perhaps being re-assigned to focus more on rehabbing and getting back up to game speed after a long layoff. Similarly, Sam Delaplane was recently added to the 40-man but has yet to appear this spring, and being assigned to Tacoma seems to indicate that he, too, is continuing to work back from something.

While it might not seem to make sense to summon Kirby, Hancock, and Williamson to big-league camp with no intent for them to play in Cactus League games only to re-assign them to a virtually non-existent MiLB camp just days later, the goal is to get these young players familiar with the routines of spring training—as un-routine as those might be compared to previous years—and exposure to the big-league coaching staff. It’s also a chance for the youngsters to sit in on meetings and be able to pick the brains of some great baseball minds before being sent off to their MiLB assignments. Think of it like freshman orientation, but all the RAs are past or present major-leaugers.

Minor-leaguers Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodríguez, and Cal Raleigh all made it past this round of cuts and will continue to get at-bats against big-league competition. For all three players that’s a vote of confidence that, in the eyes of the organization, their development won’t be impeded by facing much more seasoned competition, but especially so for Julio, the least-experienced of the three. Julio actually leads the trio with five hits in his 19 ABs (albeit with 9 Ks), and has two stolen bases, tied for second on the club, to go along with it.

Including today’s game, 14 more games remain in the Cactus League schedule before Opening Day on Thursday, April 1, which I just realized is April Fool’s Day, begin construction on your pun shelters now.