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Drayer: The state of the Mariners’ roster going into the new year

The Mariners' 40-man roster currently sits at 39 with the new year approaching. (Getty)

Baseball typically shuts down the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. That doesn’t mean that moves can’t be made but it is usually a quiet period in the offseason. Therefore it’s not a bad time to punch the reset button and take a look at exactly where the Mariners are with their roster with under two months to go until the start of spring training.

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What has happened

Since the season ended we have seen a healthy, but not exorbitant among of roster moves.

Gone from the Mariners’ 40-man roster

Contracts expired: RHP Félix Hernández, LHP Tommy Milone, RHP Arodys Vizcaíno

Club option declined: LHP Wade LeBlanc

Arbitration-eligible, non-tendered: SS Tim Beckham, OF Domingo Santana

Claimed off waivers: RHP Anthony Bass (Toronto), RHP Matt Wisler (Minnesota)

Outrighted to minors, elected free agency: OF Keon Broxton, RHP Chasen Bradford, RHP Connor Sadzeck, 1B Ryon Healy

Traded: C Omar Narváez

Added to Mariners roster

Free agent signings: RHP Carl Edwards Jr., RHP Kendall Graveman, UT Patrick Wisdom

Via trade: RHP Adam Hill, LHP Nestor Cortes Jr.

Rule 5 Draft pick: RHP Yohan Ramirez

Claimed off waivers: RHP Philips Valdez

Signed to contract extention: 1B Evan White

Current 40-man roster (with minor league options available)

Pitchers – 22 total

Austin Adams, 0
Dan Altavilla, 0
Gerson Bautista, 1
Brandon Brennan, 2
Nestor Cortes, 2
Justin Dunn, 3
Carl Edwards Jr., 0
Matt Festa, 1
Marco Gonzales, 0
Kendal Graveman, 1
Zac Grotz, 3
Taylor Guilbeau, 3
Yusei Kikuchi, 3
Matt Magill, 0
Reggie McClain, 3
Yohan Ramirez, 3
Ricardo Sanchez, 1
Justus Sheffield, 2
Erik Swanson, 2
Sam Tuivailala, 0
Philips Valdez, 2
Art Warren, 3

Catchers – 2

Tom Murphy, 0
Austin Nola, 2

Infield – 10

J.P. Crawford, 1
Dee Gordon, n/a
Shed Long, 1
Tim Lopes, 3
Dylan Moore, 3
Kyle Seager, n/a
Daniel Vogelbach, 0
Donnie Walton, 3
Evan White, 3
Patrick Wisdom, 3

Outfield – 5

Braden Bishop, 2
Jake Fraley, 3
Mitch Haniger, 3
Kyle Lewis, 3
Mallex Smith, 2

The 40-man roster is at 39.

The “If I had to guess today” 26-man roster:

Starting lineup

C, Murphy
1B, White
2B, Long
SS, Crawford
3B, Seager
LF, Lewis
CF, Smith
RF, Haniger
DH, Vogelbach

Bench

Gordon
Nola
Moore
Bishop

Rotation

Gonzales
Kikuchi
Sheffield
Graveman
Dunn

Bullpen

RP Magill
RP Tuivailala
RP Edwards Jr.
RP Swanson
RP Guilbeau
RP Grotz
RP Ramirez
(RP non-40-man)

Still on the shopping list

A starter who could give the Mariners either 120-140 innings if needed or pitch out of the pen. While a rotation spot is Sheffield’s to lose, and I think it would take a terrible spring for that to happen, I believe that they will need to see more from Dunn or he starts in the minors. They like him, but they want him 100 percent ready.

Also expect to see an experienced reliever brought in, which will knock someone off the list above. My hope for the non-40 spot is that it is one of the pitchers from Double-A, but I think it is more likely we see them start in the minors.

The final need is a third catcher option, preferably someone with big league experience. This player will most likely be kept at Triple-A.

Magic number is 1

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has traded exactly one player since the trade deadline last July. With where the team is in the development plan, this makes sense as the roster has been mostly cleared for the young players to get their time this season. There are a few moves we could see between now and the start of the season.

Finding Dee Gordon a new home is the most obvious move; unfortunately there has been no word of interest from other clubs as of yet. That could change as we get closer to spring training or the start of the season.

As for Kyle Seager and Mitch Haniger, it’s a situation worth keeping an eye on. Both players are valued for what they currently bring to the team but could also be of value to the team for what they bring back in trade. And that’s the key.

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The Mariners are not going to discount Haniger at this point because he is coming off a down year. He’s got plenty of time to re-establish value. As for Seager, he’s not blocking anyone. The Mariners absolutely do not have to trade him right now. Being in the position they are in, it makes it hard to see them taking on too much of his remaining contract in a trade (unless a good prospect is involved) and near-impossible to see them do what Ken Rosenthal suggested and actually add a prospect in order to move salary. Obviously not what a rebuilding club should do.

About those $

The Mariners’ payroll for 2020 is currently just over $100 million dollars. Of note, in checking a couple of different payroll resources I noticed Cot’s Baseball Contracts has finally posted 40-man year-end ranks and the Mariners came in at 14th with a 40-man end of year payroll of $152,527,395. That’s down from the $170,971,290 spent in 2018, good for the 10th most in baseball. Rebuilds can be cheap – this one is not.

Why?

In large part due to the fact that the Mariners were able to eat salary to move and acquire players and accelerate the process. Most of the dollars are tied to Robinson Canó. While they took the biggest hit in 2019, there is still a significant amount of dollars, nearly $30 million, being paid out in 2020. For more, check out Cot’s Baseball Contracts or the Fangraphs Roster Resource.

So far, so…?

Good, as far as the stated plan goes. With the path mostly cleared for the younger, newer players and a commitment to get them experience and a better picture of what exactly the Mariners have before adding, Dipoto said it would be a relatively quiet offseason. To this point, that is what we have seen.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Shannon Drayer on Twitter.

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