SEATTLE (AP) — The running joke is that when the Seattle Mariners arrive for the first day of spring training everyone will need to wear “Hi, my name is” nametags.
It might not be a bad idea for manager Scott Servais to consider.
“I’m very excited to go to spring training, to get with this group, and hit the reset button a little bit on our clubhouse and what we’ve got going,” Servais said.
Seattle begins spring training in a full rebuild mode — although “step-back” or “reset” have been the favored terms inside the front office. Instead of being a club contending for a wild-card berth and likely hovering in the 85- to 90-win range, the Mariners embraced the need to get younger, to relieve themselves of some hefty contracts, and to provide financial flexibility for the time when their crop of prospects are regular contributors.
Seattle should not be a terrible team. They aren’t tanking. But they begin spring with a roster they hope won’t be the same by midseason. In Seattle’s perfect scenario, the handful of established veterans in the lineup will play well enough early in the season that they can be moved for more prospects.
The hope remains that the prospects they’ve acquired will be ready to contribute by the second half of the 2020 season, with some likely making their debuts this year. Much of spring training will involve seeing how a handful of them stack up already.
“We have a chance to grow into something special and we’re gonna watch that happen. While we couldn’t tell you definitively we’re gonna win 100 games, I can tell you we’re gonna try to win every single one that we play,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “We’re not going out there with the intention to lose. I think that was one of the things that got lost in the weeds. So far back as two years ago when people started talking about rebuilding and restructuring and ripping it down. You don’t have to rip it down to put yourself in a better position.”
Other things to watch as the Mariners start reporting next Monday, ahead of the early season opener in Japan on March 20 against Oakland:
NEW LOOK: Gone are Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Jean Segura, Mike Zunino, Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia, and with them a lot of the offensive production from recent seasons. The Mariners’ offseason trades and roster decisions saw them bid farewell to the heart of their batting order in Segura, Cano and Cruz. Yet the drop-off shouldn’t be significant at the plate. Seattle added speed in outfielder Mallex Smith and shortstop J.P. Crawford. They got a potential big bat in outfielder Domingo Santana and likely improved offensively behind the plate with Omar Narvaez.