The Mariners’ acquisition of utilityman Danny Valencia from the Athletics in exchange for right-hander Paul Blackburn is likely to end the Seattle tenures of two free agents – first baseman Dae-ho Lee and outfielder Franklin Gutierrez – general manager Jerry Dipoto revealed Saturday (via Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune).
“There’s very little likelihood that both (Valencia and Lee) will fit on the same roster,” Dipoto said. “I (also) don’t think we have to go out and focus on getting a right-handed-hitting outfielder just to have one.”
Valencia expects his role with the Mariners will be “to play first base, probably some right field,” which would make both Lee and Gutierrez superfluous to the club. All three are right-handed hitters, and barring more moves, Valencia is a strong candidate to complement lefty-swingers Dan Vogelbach at first base (previously Lee’s role with now-free agent Adam Lind) and Seth Smith in the outfield (fomerly Gutierrez’s job). Valencia seems likely to see most of his action at first, as Dipoto said Saturday that August acquisition Ben Gamel is slated to start in one outfield corner and Nelson Cruz and Guillermo Heredia will join Valencia in platooning with Smith. However, given that it’s so early in the offseason, Dipoto unsurprisingly isn’t ruling out further acquisitions.
“If we see a good fit, or the ability to go acquire a player who makes us better, we’re not going to hesitate. Valencia’s flexibility allows that,” he commented.