Will Thornton Make it Through the Winter? (GETTY)
Paced to drop over 90 games for the second straight season, the Mariners are destined to make even more roster changes this winter. The club needs two starting pitchers, a bat in the outfield and a second option at catcher. And that's not all... the club has a number of options in Triple-A Tacoma that could replace those on the current 25-man roster.
If GM Bill Bavasi is able to acquire the three key parts to the roster (2 SP's, LF Bat), three players on the 25-man roster today will no longer be with the team, or at least not in the big leagues.
And if the the M's so choose, a few others could be replaced by younger, cheaper options from the farm system.
Who might get the axe? Who's in line to replce them? Who's job would Kevin Millwood take?
Scott Atchison, RHR
Rafael Soriano, RHR
Free Agent SP No. 1
Free Agent SP No. 2
Jose Lopez, 2B
OF Bat Acquisition
Jesse Foppert, RHS
Rene Rivera, C/Free Agent C
Note: Shin-soo Choo may have an outside shot at making the team out of spring training, but only if the club is unable to secure an upgrade in left field during the offseason.
Dave Hansen, PH (free agency)
Miguel Ojeda, C (Triple-A Option)
Ryan Franklin, RHS (arbitration non-tender)
Gil Meche/Joel Pineiro, RHS (trade)
Shigetoshi Hasegawa, RHR (option buyout/free agency)
Jeff Nelson, RHR (free agency)
Matt Thornton, LHR (DFA/Triple-A Option)
Michael Morse, SS/OF (Triple-A Option, Trade)
Julio Mateo, RHR (trade)
Willie Bloomquist, 2B (trade/arbitration non-tender)
Both Mateo and Bloomquist have earned the right to be on a 25-man roster - but it doesn't mean it has to be in Seattle. If the M's deem Bloomquist's value is not equal to the arbitration salary he may be in line for, the "local boy" may be done in Seattle. What's more likely, however, is that the infielder finds a way to stay in the M's budget - and their plans for 2006. Bloomquist has proven he can be the 24th or 25th man and serve as the backup to Yuniesky Betancourt, Adrian Beltre and Jose Lopez.
Mateo could find his job taken by Scott Atchison, Jeff Harris or even Clint Nageotte. Harris' talents mirror those of Mateo's in that he throws a lot of strikes and can cover tons of innings. The one difference is that Harris can do that for $316,000 next season while Mateo may demand as much as $1.5 million in arbitration. His case is stacked heavily in his favor as he may be the M's most valuable and consistent arm this year.
Mateo will not find himself on the non-tendered list, but he could add some value to a trade package that could also include Gil Meche or Joel Pineiro, as well as youngsters Morse and Choo.
Atchison renders Hasegawa, at any price, unnecessary and Soriano, if healthy, makes Nelson's presence, and salary, more of a burden than anything else.
A strong spring from Foppert may be the last straw for Meche or Pineiro, if they make it to Peoria in Mariner blue.
Lots of questions to answer for the M's this winter, and there may be just as many incumbents packing their bags during the upcoming winter as there was this summer.