Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Seattle Mariners: 11 Players Who Will Be Fighting for Roster Spots This Spring

<robinson cano fangraphsp>Stefen Romero/Abraham Almonte/Xavier Avery

Seattle's outfield depth chart is a big question mark. Michael Saunders, Franklin Gutierrez and Dustin Ackley can be safely penciled in as starters, but other than that, the depth is unknown.

As mentioned earlier, Hart and Morrison can be dispensed as outfielders, but it should be done so sparingly because they aren't good defensively. Bloomquist can still play some outfield, but he's been used primarily as an infielder over the last couple seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Abraham Almonte, Xavier Avery and Stefen Romero all have a chance to make the Opening Day squad, but there will likely only be one backup outfield position available.

Almonte played in 25 games last season. He was unimpressive at the plate and made four errors in 38 chances. Almonte is only 24 and hit .314 with 11 homers in 94 games for Triple-A Tacoma last season, so his outlook is promising. Another stint in the minors leagues wouldn't hurt, though.

Avery came over in the trade with the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Michael Morse last season.

The former second-round pick has seen action in 32 big-league games and is very raw offensively, but he has speed and put up an excellent zone rating of 11.904 in 216 innings, which translated to a minus-1.4 UZR, per FanGraphs, due to poor arm strength. Avery is also 24 and was a superior base stealer in the minors, which would be helpful to a Mariners team that stole just 49 bases in 2013.

Romero hit .306/.357/.506 in 1,296 minor league at-bats (330 games) and displayed some power. Although he's never played in a major league game, based on stats alone he's the most ready to step into a reserve role. He's also changed positions several times, playing five different spots on defense in the minors.

Spring training will ultimately determine the fate of these three for at least the beginning of next season but don't be surprised if the outfield is a never-ending carousel.

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