Looking at the 40-man roster

Oct 11, 2011, 10:36 AM | Updated: 6:15 pm

Several of you have asked what the next baseball deadline to watch for would be. Nov. 18 is the day to keep an eye on. On that day teams must submit their 40-man rosters for protection in the Rule 5 Draft which is held at the Winter Meetings in Dallas in December.

Depending on the player’s age when he signed his first pro contract, a player must be added to the 40-man roster or exposed to the Rule 5 draft after he has had four or five years in professional baseball. The Mariners have several players they most likely will want to protect and decisions will have to be made.

The 40-man roster in 2011 was pitching-heavy, which made for some interesting moves in the second half of the season. Two players on the 25-man roster (Chris Ray and Aaron Laffey) were dropped after trades and Matt Tuiasosopo was released to make room for the sixth starter, Anthony Vasquez. What moves could we see in the next month?

Let’s start with the 40-man roster as of today.

Beavan
Cortes
Delabar
Furbush
Gray
Hernandez
Hultzen
Jimenez
Kelley
League
Lueke
Medina
Pineda
Robles
Ruffin
Vargas
Vasquez
Wilhelmsen
Wright
Bard
Gimenez
Olivo
Ackley
Figgins
Kennedy
Liddi
Rodriguez
Ryan
Seager
Smoak
Carp
Chavez
Halman
Peguero
Pena
Robinson
Saunders
Ichiro
Wells
Wilson

David Aardsma, Franklin Gutierrez and Adam Moore finished the year on the 60-day DL and will need to be added to the roster by the deadline or non-tendered. Gutierrez and Moore will no doubt be added. It would make sense to non-tender Aardsma, who is arbitration eligible and recovering from Tommy John surgery, and hope to re-sign him later in the winter.

With the two players added from the DL that brings the roster to 42. That’s two over with more players needing to be added. Last year there were surprises when the final 40-man roster was released. This year there will no doubt be other surprises but let’s take a look at those who would make sense at this point. All must be added or exposed to the Rule 5 draft.

Francisco Martinez, acquired in the Doug Fister trade and as the possible third baseman of the future, is a lock for the 40-man. Chih-Hsien Chiang, who came to the Mariners in the Erik Bedard trade, struggled after the move but again no doubt will also be added.

A familiar name in Carlos Triunfel should also be added. If it seems like he has been in the system forever, well he pretty much has been but is only now required to be added to the roster. Still young at just 21 years old and still a shortstop according to director of minor leagues operations Pedro Grifol, who says that he is progressing.

“We think he is a big league shortstop,” he said recently on the post-game show. “He is just 21, missed a year due to injury. He is progressing every year. He kept his body in shape this year. He got to Triple-A, played well in Triple-A and there is nothing that tells us he can’t play shortstop.”

Another player that could possibly be added is Philippe Valiquette, who the Mariners signed in late August. Valiquette, a left-handed reliever who throws in the upper 90s, comes from the Reds organization and missed the 2011 season due to injuries. Since he wasn’t added for depth I could see him being put on the 40-man roster if healthy and if a spot could easily be created for him.

So right there we have four names that could be added to a roster that is already at 42 once Moore and Gutierrez are added. How do they make room? Start with the free agents. Adam Kennedy, Wily Mo Pena, Josh Bard and Jamey Wright all will come off the roster after the World Series. If they are to add the four names above two additional spots will have to be created. They may also want to keep a spot open if they choose to make a selection in the draft and spots will also be needed for any additions they make in the offseason. This seems like a lot but in looking at the roster there are a number of players I suspect would clear waivers if removed. Anthony Vasquez, Mike Wilson, almost surely would clear. Luis Rodriguez, Dan Cortes and Jeff Gray also could clear and if not would be replaceable. Steve Delabar might clear, but I wouldn’t take that chance and don’t think the Mariners will. His arm may have sparked interest in the short time he was up.

Two players the Mariners will have to make decisions on later if not sooner are Cesar Jimenez and Greg Halman. Both are out of options and must make the team out of spring training and stick on the 25-man roster or be exposed to waivers. Jimenez finished on a high note, displaying that he could get lefties out. We should see him in camp. Halman most likely will be exposed to waivers if not in the Rule 5 draft then after spring training. An outside team could be intrigued by his athleticism and take a flier on him. The fact that he didn’t get called back up paired with not playing winter ball would indicate that he is not in the Mariners’ immediate future plans.

The 40-man roster situation doesn’t appear to be as tight as it was during the season. The real challenge this offseason will be to find talent to fill the spots.

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