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Domingo Santana may be the Mariners player to watch this season

Domingo Santana came to the Mariners in a trade from the Brewers. (Getty)

With baseball’s Opening Day happening around the league on Thursday, Brock and Salk brought back MLB Network and FOX Sports baseball reporter Jon Morosi on Wednesday for the first of his chats that will occur every other week on 710 ESPN Seattle this season.

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It was a good opportunity to get the view of somebody who covers baseball with more of a national perspective, especially when it came to the one player on the Mariners’ roster he is most intrigued about.

That would be 26-year-old slugger Domingo Santana, a player who hit 30 home runs with an .875 OPS in 2017 but struggled last season when playing time became scarce in a crowded Milwaukee outfield.

“If they find a good spot for him,” Morosi said, “they like what he can do, I think he’s got the kind of power that can play at T-Mobile (Park) … and (he could) be part of the team for a long time.”

Santana should have that kind of spot in 2019 as the Mariners have plans to play him regularly in left field. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Santana did well with regular playing time during his 30-homer season, but with his plate appearances slashed from 607 all the way down to 235 last year (in part because he played 55 games in Triple-A), he had just five home runs and a .740 OPS.

“I think this is the one of the great things about a young, maturing club, is you can say, ‘Listen – this is your spot. We want you to just play the heck out of this one position and see what you do when we say that you’re going to play 155 games.’ And so that to me, he’s the guy (to watch),” Morosi said.

Should Santana bounce back and produce more like during he did in 2017 – and he’s off to a good start having already hit his first Mariners homer in last week’s two-game sweep of the A’s in Japan – Morosi wouldn’t be surprised if teams start calling Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto about a trade for him. But he thinks even in that scenario, Santana makes sense as a player the Mariners can build around.

“I wonder if he could be a guy where if he goes off and makes the All-Star team, then maybe there is some conversation there about where he could fit in and maybe teams would be calling with some interest in him,” Morosi said. “But I think he’s going to be a Mariner for a long time, for the next two to three years at least.”

Morosi also shared his opinion on how the Mariners’ rebuild came together this offseason, as well as why this year could be make or break for shortstop J.P. Crawford, who is starting the season in Triple-A. To hear those thoughts and the rest of the interview, listen in the player embedded in this post or download it in podcast form at this link.

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