The Mariners feel they need to bolster their rotation and are likely to increase their efforts to add a starter on the trade and free-agent markets if they miss out on right-hander Shohei Ohtani, Bob Dutton reports (Twitter links). If the Mariners are successful in luring Ohtani to Seattle, however, they’ll likely focus more on beefing up the bullpen and adding an outfielder to the mix. Certainly, the Mariners are doing everything in their power to be able to make the best offer possible to Ohtani, as they’ve now traded prospects Thyago Vieira (to the White Sox) and David Banuelos (to the Twins) to add an additional $1.5MM worth of international bonus allotments.
A few more notes out of Seattle…
- General manager Jerry Dipoto has spoken recently about his team’s desire for versatility on the roster, and to that end, the Mariners are asking Ben Gamel to work out at first base this offseason and in Spring Training, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Gamel, 25, turned in a solid .275/.322/.413 batting line with 11 homers last year and is capable of handling all three outfield spots already. Seattle picked up Ryon Healy to serve as its primary first baseman in 2018 and beyond, though certainly the ability to give Gamel some reps at first would give manager Scott Servais additional flexibility when filling out the lineup card.
- Dipoto joined Aaron Goldsmith on the third installment of the Mariners’ new “Wheelhouse” podcast and, as he has in the previous two episodes, discussed a host of topics that Mariners fans will want to hear. Notably, Dipoto tells Goldsmith that Hisashi Iwakuma (who recently signed a minor league deal with the Mariners) will be in Spring Training on a throwing program and, if all goes well, will be ready to pitch by mid-May. Dipoto gushes about Iwakuma’s work ethic and ability to sequence pitches to deceive hitters and says that he hopes the remainder of Iwakuma’s days as a player are spent in a Mariners uniform.
- Also of note, Dipoto explains that the Mariners are going to try to convert waiver claim Sam Moll from a reliever back into a starter. Dipoto notes that Moll has a solid riding fastball in the 90-94 mph range and a changeup that helps him generate grounders, as well as a breaking pitch that trails behind his other two offerings somewhat in quality. Moll has only started six games as a professional but was a starter in college and intrigues the Mariners in that role. At minimum, Dipoto says the Mariners view Moll as a multi-inning relief candidate with a pair of minor league options, giving them some nice flexibility next year.