The Seattle Mariners have unfortunately fallen victim to their first in-season outbreak of COVID-19 since the beginning of the 2020 season, with four players placed on the COVID-19-related injured list following one player testing positive and close contact tracing for three others. All four players are pitchers - RHPs Robert Dugger, Will Vest, and Drew Steckenrider, as well as LHP Anthony Misiewicz. While they are all nominally relievers, with Seattle experiencing a rash of injuries to their pitching staff, Dugger had been serving as a semi-starter to help the club maintain the six-man rotation, and all four have worked significant innings already this season.
To cover the holes created, Seattle has made a few moves, all internal. First, they’ve reinstated RHP Keynan Middleton from the IL, an encouraging move regardless of the circumstance that was expected even prior to today’s news. He’ll be joined in the bullpen by rookie RHP Wyatt Mills, LHP Aaron Fletcher, and former Rule-5 RHP Yohan Ramírez, the latter making his 2021 big league debut. Ramírez successfully stuck on the big league roster all of 2020, making him once again eligible to be sent to the minor leagues for the Mariners, and the club unsurprisingly did so, giving the explosive righty more time to attempt to refine his command. He’s been touched up a bit in Tacoma through 8.1 innings (six appearances) but his issue has not been walks or missing bats, so hopefully the batted balls he does yield can find more gloves than they were in AAA.
The other name on the list is a new one, even to many of the most diligent M’s roster-combers. INF Eric Campbell is a 34 year old... well, something. He played parts of three big league seasons with the Mets from 2014-2016, with increasingly poor returns at the plate due to a penchant for pile-driving the ball into the ground. Campbell signed with the M’s just over a week ago and has played four games with Tacoma, but will likely fill a combination of José Marmolejos and Ty France’s role. He’s in the France mold of good strength, 3B/2B/1B versatility, though it’s difficult to project his game after a five year layoff from The Show, including a stint with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan, and AAA run with Miami and Oakland.
With these moves, the 26-man roster is full, and to my understanding the club will have until the COVID-protocols-sidelined players are eligible to return to reorient their 40-man roster as Campbell’s addition will require a spot long-term, though space is cleared temporarily by the four relievers being sidelined. While we obviously do not know the vaccination status of most individual players beyond what they’ve shared publicly on social media, the Mariners are reportedly one of the least vaccinated teams in the league, leaving them (among other things) extremely vulnerable to extended absences from many players due to MLB requirements for quarantine following positive tests and/or close contact to positive tests. GM Jerry Dipoto expressed his serious concerns about this possibility recently, noting over 90% of the club’s minor league system has been vaccinated compared to, reportedly, under 50% of the big league club. Unfortunately, that fear has come to pass, though hopefully this will be the extent of the people impacted. It appears at least according to manager Scott Servais that may well be a concern.
Servais said that everyone in the traveling party go re-tested this morning and they are awaiting the results of those tests. He's hoping there won't be any more positive tests or contact traces.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) May 21, 2021
"We aren't out of the woods yet."