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Robertson Claimed, Piles Grow

The Mariners made a small move yesterday, claiming OF Daniel Robertson off of waivers. He is the second waiver pick-up by Jerry Dipoto so far. The other is RHP Cody Martin, which happened so far underneath the radar that I did not notice until yesterday. The move actually happened October 19.

Neither Robertson nor Martin are exceptional on their own, but they both provide more clues on Dipoto's vision.

It is easy to see why Robertson was available on waivers. He is 30 years old and listed at 5'8". Unsurprisingly, Robertson has never hit for power, and really has not hit at all in the majors. However, Robertson is a capable defender at all three outfield positions and has a strong history of plate discipline throughout his time in the minor leagues. Jerry Dipoto has stated publicly that he wants athletic outfielders and prefers a style of baseball with lots of baserunners moving from station to station. Robertson is hardly an impact bat, but his limited skills are the ones that the Mariners did not have under Jack Zduriencik.

Cody Martin made his MLB debut last year and was about as unfortunate as unfortunate gets. He got lit up to the tune of a 7.92 ERA out of the bullpen. That was caused, predictably, by a high home run rate (21.1% of fly balls, over double the league average). Martin also suffered from a very low strand rate, meaning his baserunners came around to score well more than average. Martin has a track record of solid success starting in the minor leagues though, and Jerry Dipoto is clearly banking on both regression to the mean and Safeco's friendly confines masking the dinger issue. Plus, the Mariners needed some pitching depth. Martin is exactly the kind of pitcher that Dipoto should be going after to fill in roster depth.

Obviously, the offseason has barely begun and Jerry Dipoto likely has many more moves left before the Mariners report to Peoria next spring. However, even with the few moves on the books, it is clear that Dipoto is focused on finding strikeout pitchers with lots of team control (even if they have elevated home run rates), and speedy outfielders with on-base and defensive skills. So why not take a peek at what the Mariners opening day roster might look like right now? Here is my best guess:

STARTING LINEUP
  1. Boog Powell (CF)
  2. Ketel Marte (SS)
  3. Robinson Cano (2B)
  4. Nelson Cruz (DH)
  5. Kyle Seager (3B)
  6. Mark Trumbo (1B)
  7. Seth Smith (RF)
  8. Franklin Gutierrez (LF)
  9. Mike Zunino (C)
BENCH
  • Chris Taylor (INF)
  • Shawn O'Malley (UT)
  • Daniel Robertson (OF)
  • Jesus Sucre (C)
STARTING ROTATION
  1. Felix Hernandez
  2. Taijuan Walker
  3. Nate Karns
  4. James Paxton
  5. Roenis Elias
BULLPEN
  • Cody Martin
  • Tony Zych
  • C.J. Reifenhauser
  • Vidal Nuno
  • Tom Wilhelmsen
  • Charlie Furbush
  • Carson Smith
This is just my best guess, and actually I would guess that neither Dipoto nor Scott Servais has conducted this thought experiment with how crazy early it is in the offseason. I assumed all Mariners free agents were gone (hence no Iwakuma) and also assumed no free agent signings.

The 2016 Mariners will obviously look different, and in all likelihood better, than this current projected roster. That's not really the point of the exercise though. The point is that it is pretty easy to see the overall structure of the roster already. The outfield looks different, and the skillset Dipoto is focused on out there is likely to make the top and bottom of the lineup look very different. The pitching staff already looks like it will generate lots of swings and misses, but also more than fair share of fly balls. This makes a good defensive outfield all the more important.

I hope that Dipoto builds up some more depth, and there is little doubt he will do that. I like the overall feel of the Mariners team he is building. The little moves so far are building up some piles of serviceable players in spots where the Mariners had no replacement level players. It seems like the players being brought in are puzzle pieces that contribute to a better whole. This is progress.