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A look at the Mariners’ roster puzzle

By Shannon Drayer

We won’t hear an official announcement of the Raul Ibanez signing from the team until tomorrow, but it is a done deal as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of The AP is reporting the deal is work $2.75 million with another $1.25 million in performance bonuses. Pretty much the difference in salaries between Jason Vargas and Kendrys Morales, and no, that has nothing to do with this signing.

This deal has been in the works for some time and it is not the Mariners’ first attempt to bring Ibanez back for round three as Eric Wedge tried to lure him to Seattle last offseason. Both like what he brings to the clubhouse and the power he still has left in his bat. How he will be used remains to be seen but the corners, DH, and even some first are all possibilities.

As I mentioned in my post before, the roster situation as it stands is quite interesting. Of course, as it stands it most likely is not the final roster situation so, like the Morales trade, this move is hard to fully evaluate until we see all the pieces in Peoria.

Mike Carp’s days with the M’s could be numbered now that veteran Raul Ibanez is joining a crowded outfield. (AP)

Some of the things that will need to be worked out:

First of all, someone will have to be dropped from the 40-man roster. There are candidates, some obvious, some who might be a surprise because of their option situation. We should be told of the move on Sunday.

For those of you who tweeted concern that Ibanez is pushing out some of the young outfielders, I do not agree. The young outfielders all had chances to grab a full-time starting position last year. They were given plenty of opportunities and no one did. As for young outfielders on the horizon, well, there are none. This move will not block a stud outfield prospect next year because that player, if he exists in the Mariners’ system, is nowhere near the big leagues.

A lot will depend on what the Mariners see in Jason Bay in spring training. If it looks like he still has something then things will get very tight in the outfield. Eric Thames has an option so he most likely will start the season in Tacoma. Casper Wells is in a different situation. He is out of options but a right-handed bat. Seems worth keeping around on the 25-man roster.

Of course, they could still add another outfielder and if it is an established guy with numbers then it is probably so long, Casper. On that note, someone who is in even a worse boat is Mike Carp. No options, not strong in the field, left-handed. I think there is a good chance we have seen the last of Carp in a Mariners uniform.

I am assuming that Wedge will go with a seven-man pen again next year so that leaves four spots on the bench. Robert Andino, plus a fourth and most likely fifth outfielder, and a second catcher. Will the fifth outfielder be sacrificed for the third catcher that Wedge would like to have? Also, they are still lefty-heavy in the lineup. The more right-handed bats on the bench, the better. How will this be accomplished?

It is still too early to completely sort the puzzle out but these are things to keep in mind. There are most likely more moves coming. For now, Wedge finally has the veteran presence in the clubhouse he is looking for. The young guys on this team still have a lot to learn about being a big leaguer, preparing like a big leaguer and dealing with the day ins and day outs of baseball at the highest level.

Ibanez has been through just about every struggle and every battle you can imagine. His preparation, both on the physical and mental sides, are second to none. He has also been a part of success. He is comfortable in the role of veteran and is more than a lead-by-example guy. We will see how Jack Zduriencik and Wedge make this work.

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