Mariners spring training: Looking at who’s on the bubble for the 25-man roster

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

With under a week remaining until Opening Day, the Seattle Mariners’ final 25-man roster has come into focus.

Seattle entered the spring with three main position battles to decide: Shortstop, second lefty reliever, and the fifth spot in the rotation. One way or another, those spots have all been decided already.

The shortstop battle looked like the toughest call for the Mariners initially, as both Chris Taylor and Brad Miller got off to hot starts in spring. However, Taylor suffered a broken wrist on March 14 that will keep him out of action for 4-6 weeks, ending the competition.

Taijuan Walker easily cemented the No. 5¬†spot in the rotation with a brilliant spring campaign. Seattle’s former top prospect threw 18 consecutive scoreless innings to begin spring, allowing only six hits with four walks and 19 strikeouts.

Tyler Olson also put together a dominant March, emerging out of nowhere as the favorite to take the lefty bullpen spot. David Rollins, a Rule 5 Draft pick who would have had to stay on the active roster or go back to the Houston Astros, was suspended 80 games last week for steroid use, clearing the path for Olson.

With the roster whittled down to 28 including two injuries, the Mariners appear set for Opening Day, but a few players are on the bubble should something unexpected occur.

Erasmo Ramirez, SP

As the only non-injured player without an apparent spot on the 25-man roster who hasn’t already been demoted or cut, there is a faint chance Ramirez finds himself in Seattle on Opening Day. Ramirez was an outside contender for a rotation spot but didn’t pitch well enough to justify inclusion, leaving his only chance as a long reliever in the bullpen.

The Mariners have made it pretty clear that they want to carry two left-handers in the bullpen. That puts Ramirez and Seattle in a bit of a bind in the final week of spring training.

Ramirez is out of minor-league options and cannot be stashed as depth in Tacoma. The Mariners are just about guaranteed to lose him on waivers, making a trade the ideal scenario, but Seattle has no leverage in negotiations.

Barring a late injury or shocking bullpen decision, Ramirez’s time with the organization is just about over.

Carson Smith, RP

The decision to carry two lefties and seven relievers total comes mostly at the expensive of Smith. While Smith was dominant during his September call-up last year and is a piece of Seattle’s future, there’s just no room for him on the 25-man roster at the moment.

Even with losing Brandon Maurer, the Mariners have a lot of depth in the bullpen. The only players that Smith would have an argument for inclusion over would be Yoervis Medina and Dominic Leone, but even that’s a stretch.

As soon as there’s an injury or someone in the bullpen pitches poorly, Smith will be up in Seattle.

Roenis Elias, SP

Elias has to feel a bit unlucky with the circumstances this spring. After a strong rookie season, Elias will not be in Seattle’s starting rotation this Opening Day.

Even with the addition of J.A. Happ during the offseason, it felt as if Elias would have an even chance to secure the No. 5 spot in the rotation entering the spring. Walker’s dominance from the start never really gave him a chance.

No team is making it through the season with only six starters. Elias is the clear top depth option and will pitch a few games in the majors this year.

Chris Taylor, SS

Taylor’s rehab plus whatever time he needs in Tacoma to get back up to speed will cost him at least the first month of the regular season. The Mariners will need to decide if Taylor is worthy of the last spot on their bench.

The 24-year-old was hitting well enough to warrant a roster position in spring and proved he can bring some value last summer. Seattle would have to make the difficult decision of cutting veteran Willie Bloomquist, who has a bit more versatility but far less upside.

Taylor could also flat out take over the starting shortstop job by the time he’s healthy if Miller struggles out of the gate again.

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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is a journalism student at the University of Washington, currently covering sports for The UW Daily in addition to Sports Out West. He has been closely following Seattle sports his entire life.


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