The Mariners have signed Cuban infielder Dayner Moreira to a minor league contract, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. The 31-year-old will report for early work with the Mariners’ minor league mini-camp and figures to head to minor league camp once the rest of the position players report. Though he appears ticketed for the minors to open the year, the team’s hope is that Moreira could eventually surface as a utility option.
Vice president of player personnel Tom Allison told Dutton that Moreira “can really, really run” and praised the Cuban veteran’s infield versatility. Allison also said that the team hopes to get a look at Moreira in left field to see if he can be an option in the outfield corners as well. It’s been more than a year since Moreira saw in-game action for an extensive period, as he missed the 2015-16 season in Cuba after defecting in Puerto Rico last winter (as Carlos Rosa Rosa of El Nuevo Dia wrote back in November). That lack of recent experience is the reason he’s heading to minor league camp, per Allison, although it’s at least worth noting that Moreira did appear in 13 games in the Puerto Rican Winter League this offseason. Of course, he received just 38 at-bats in that time, collecting 11 hits (all singles), so he’s undoubtedly still somewhat rusty.
Though he lacks power, Moreira offered solid contributions in terms of batting average and OBP in Cuba, where he is a lifetime .316/.359/.376 hitter in 3247 plate appearances. Moreira played shortstop exclusively in Cuba (with the exception of one lone inning at third base), but Allison seemed confident that he could handle other infield spots as well.