Drayer: After Tuivailala’s release, here’s a look at the Mariners’ roster battles

Mar 20, 2020, 3:09 PM
Mariners Sam Tuivailala...
The Mariners released reliever Sam Tuivailala on Friday. (Getty)

As we have seen a number of teams do in the last few days, the Mariners made a number of roster moves Friday. In his conference call with the media Thursday, Jerry Dipoto explained that there has not been a freeze put on roster moves during the baseball shutdown.

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“Really anything to do right now is obviously a paper move,” he said. “Any moves we would make would simply be situating rosters for the better when we do come back, reassigning or optioning players, but we don’t anticipate doing that at least in the immediate term.”

In the almost but not quite immediate term, five roster moves were made today.

Optioned to Triple-A Tacoma:

INF Donovan Walton
INF Patrick Wisdom
RHP Zac Grotz
RHP Taylor Williams

Placed on unconditional release waivers:

RHP Sam Tuivailala

Tuivailala did not pitch in a Cactus League game as he dealt with a shoulder impingement all spring. Out of minor league options, it would appear that the Mariners were more willing to roll the dice on either one of young relievers who impressed in camp or a pitcher who could become available when rosters are trimmed before the start of the season.

As it stands, there are 15 relievers left in camp to battle for the eight spots in the bullpen. Three of those left  – Dan Altavilla, Carl Edwards Jr. and Matt Magill – do not have any options remaining. With the Mariners on the hook for $1.6 million, I would say it is a safe bet that Yoshihisa Hirano makes the roster. It would appear that as of now, there are four spots open, but that could change if teams are allowed as expected to carry extra pitchers should they restart with a shorter new “spring training.”

Those still in the game? Brandon Brennan, Magill, Erik Swanson, Nestor Cortes, Taylor Guilbeau and the Rule 5 pick Yohan Ramirez. Cortes should make the team as he performed very well in camp and is a natural fit to follow starters after short starts. Joey Gerber opened eyes in camp, but the season being delayed could have an impact there. There is still a lot to get worked out as far as service time and other issues, but make no mistake, there was buzz around Gerber.

As for the final two spots on the bench, while I think most assumed that one spot would go to a utility player and the other a fourth outfielder, we learned early in camp that Scott Servais didn’t believe they absolutely had to have a fourth outfielder. Wisdom was brought in with the thought that he would give them the ability to protect Evan White a bit in his first year and also help them preserve Kyle Seager a bit, giving him a few less starts at third, and also serving as insurance at the position.

Instead, it appears the two spots will go to two of four competitors left in camp: Dylan Moore, Tim Lopes, Sam Haggerty or possibly Jose Marmolejos, who is limited in the infield because he’s left handed, but swung one of the better bats – and there were few – the final two weeks in Peoria. One other option would be to pick up someone who is released or placed on waivers by another club before the start of the season.

With the moves Friday, the Mariners spring roster is now at 44 players and the 40-man roster at 38.

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Drayer: After Tuivailala’s release, here’s a look at the Mariners’ roster battles