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Drayer: Mariners’ bullpen officially under construction, so what is next?

The Mariners are sending two players to Texas for closer Rafael Montero. (Getty)

The Mariners’ bullpen is officially under construction, and that is good to see.

M’s bullpen additions: Trade for Rafael Montero | Sign Keynan Middleton

A quick refresher. At the end of last season there were three names of returning relievers most would feel comfortable calling locks for the pen moving into 2021: Kendall Graveman, Anthony Misiewicz and Yohan Ramirez. While there are others who certainly could step forward in spring Training or later in the season, these are the names you would expect to see in ink.

Add to that list the newest acquisition, Rafael Montero, a hard-throwing strike-thrower who served as the closer for the Rangers in 2020. Then there’s Rule 5 pick Will Vest, who barring disaster this spring I would expect to start the season on the big league roster.

Spots have been filled.

Now what? This was a major topic on the most recent edition of the Talking Mariners podcast with Shannon and Howdy (with special guest Gary Hill weighing in with some thoughts). We discussed names and direction, with the three of us agreeing that we don’t necessarily see Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto going after the big splash reliever, rather targeting multiple arms with known track records.

“You are just trying to get solid,” Hill pointed out while going on to list a number of available relievers who fit the bill.

Jeff Passan a little more in his tweet breaking the Montero news as he noted the Mariners could have interest in Blake Treinen a 2018 All-Star who had a solid 2020 for the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

There will be competition for Treinen and I don’t see the Mariners going above and beyond to land him. They do have a bit of a wild card in a former teammate of Treinen’s, however – Graveman could look similar out of the pen. Not a sure thing, but as discussed in the podcast, the Mariners still have a bit of time before they need to make the finishing touch-type roster additions.

While the stated goal in 2021 is to compete for the playoffs, the Mariners will still be seeking answers and seasoning of their young players in the first half. They don’t necessarily need that big arm at the beginning of the season, and certainly not at the cost of other needed arms. In the words of Hill, right now they are just trying to get solid.

Ultimately, early on the most important thing is you don’t want the bullpen to be the reason why you didn’t get there. In the simplest of terms, you want that ‘pen to not be a problem for the first three months of the season. Going from the American League’s worst to an All-Star bullpen in one offseason might be a bit of a stretch, but getting to dependable, known arms that manager Scott Servais can call on with regularity without question marks in the first half? That would be a big step in the right direction.

Of course we are open to surprises as well.

Follow Shannon Drayer on Twitter.

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