Mariners finalize roster before 2023 opening day
PEORIA, Ariz. — While they won’t submit their official roster until just before Thursday morning’s deadline, in case of a fluke injury or accident over the next few days, the Mariners made their final decisions on the last spots on their 26-man roster before Monday’s Cactus League finale.
Seattle reassigned infielder Mason McCoy to minor league camp and optioned right-handed reliever Justin Topa to Triple-A Tacoma. The Mariners will place infielder/outfielder Dylan Moore (oblique strain) and outfielder Taylor Trammell (fractured hand) on the injured list in the next day or two.
“I thought he had a great spring both Topa and Gabe Speier really stood out for me in the spring, and I’ll put a Riley O’Brien in there as well,” manager Scott Servais said. “He was a different pitcher this spring that we’ve seen in the past, but certainly Topa and Speier separated themselves. They were guys who pitched good enough to make our club. I do think it is spring training, our bullpen had a really good year last year. All those guys are back except for one. And those guys have earned the right to continue to do their job down there and we’ll give them the ball and go from there.”
With rosters limited to 13 pitchers, there could be some maneuvering with the bullpen spots due to usage or struggles. Servais tried to make sure those relievers knew they would pitch in the big leagues in 2023.
“Both of the guys are really good people, and they believe in the things that we’ve thrown at them,” Servais said. “They’ve taken that and put it in play in their outings in spring training, and they’ve gotten very good results. It’s all trending in the right direction other than the fact that they won’t be with us when we open, but they will play a big role in our bullpen here at some point throughout the season.”
McCoy was vying for the last position player spot with veteran infielder Tommy La Stella. While he largely outperformed La Stella, who was slowed by shoulder fatigue much of the spring, McCoy wasn’t on the 40-man roster and the Mariners felt comfortable enough with having J.P. Crawford as the only true shortstop on the active roster and using utility player Sam Haggerty as an emergency fill-in.
Crawford hasn’t played since suffering fouling a ball off his right foot before Friday’s game. But he took ground balls with Moore on Monday morning with Perry Hill and the training staff watching. Part of the decision to not add McCoy was also based Dylan Moore’s quicker than expected recovery from his injury.
“He’s going to back in our mix relatively early,” Servais said. “I would expect him back by mid-April at the latest.”
The Mariners’ plan coming into the season was to use Moore at shortstop once a week to give Crawford rest days to keep him healthy. They won’t need to do that right away.
“We have off days built in April,” Servais said. “I think when the grind starts it’s when you play 20 consecutive days. And you don’t want to play anybody 20 days in a row.”
Luis Castillo, RHP
Robbie Ray, LHP
Logan Gilbert, RHP
Marco Gonzales, LHP
George Kirby, RHP
Notes: While the team left on Monday evening after the Cactus League game, Kirby remained in Arizona. He’s will pitch in a minor league game on Tuesday to stay on normal rest. The Mariners brought Gilbert and Kirby along slowly this spring due to usage last season. They will be careful in their first few outings.
“I don’t think you’ll see either one of those guys run out there and throw six innings at 100 pitches,” Servais said. “That’s not going to be the case. If you get a good outing out of them, it might be five (innings) and 85-ish (pitches). You have to trust your eyes and how the game is going, is it stressful early on, is the pitch count getting up there, the game dictates a lot of that. Starting George in the five hole, he is going to get some extra rest between starts which will be good for him as we ramp up throughout the season.”
Andres Munoz, RHP
Paul Sewald, RHP
Matt Brash, RHP
Diego Castillo, RHP
Matt Festa, RHP
Trevor Gott, RHP
Penn Murfee, RHP
Chris Flexen, RHP
Notes: Sewald, Festa and Castillo threw in Monday’s Cactus League game to get their final appearances in of the spring. The lack of a lefty isn’t uncommon for teams and won’t be the entire season. The Astros will also start the season without a lefty in their bullpen.
The Mariners will need middle relievers to be able to work more than one inning early in the season, especially with how close they are monitoring the workloads of Kirby and Gilbert.
“One thing that needs to be noted and people don’t understand, last year when we broke camp, we had 10 relievers,” Servais said. “We had extra players because we only had a three-week camp, so you could space out your outings from your bullpen early in the season more. This year, you’re only going with eight relievers. These guys are going to have to pitch. You know your starters are not going to go 7-8 innings right out of the chute. So relievers are going to have to pitch multiple innings, back to back, two out of three and three out of four. It’s going to be a real thing early on and you need to be aware of it. It will have a different feel.”
Ty France, 1B
Kolten Wong, 2B
J.P. Crawford, SS
Eugenio Suarez, 3B
Tommy La Stella, 3B/1B
Sam Haggerty, IF/OF
Notes: La Stella played third base in a B game before Monday’s Cactus League game. He played third base for five innings on Sunday.
“I thought he’s swung the bat really well,” Servais said. “We’ve got Geno and we’ve got Hags, who can stand in at third as well. We’ve got coverage there, but I wanted to get them out there and see what that looks like. Tommy’s an offensive player. He’s always been an offensive player. But if you’ve got to fill in late in the game or something, you just want to make sure he’s capable of doing what you need.”
Julio Rodriguez, CF
Jarred Kelenic, OF
Teoscar Hernandez, RF
AJ Pollock, LF
Notes: Kelenic will play right field on the days when Hernandez is at designated hitter. He is the only member of the outfield group who will see time at all three outfield spots.
Notes: Hummel is listed as a catcher, but he could play other positions more given how strong the bond is with the pitching staff and Raleigh and Murphy.
“I think Cooper Hummel has played a very good outfield this spring,” Servais said. “He’s very aggressive. He runs well. He’s not afraid to go after balls.”
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