This rates as somewhat of a surprise, since the Mariners had been looking to take Royce Ring with them as a second left-hander to start the season. But Ring was among the latest cuts today as the Mariners re-assigned him to minor league camp along with Justin Miller and Denny Bautista.
Not much of a surprise? Matt Tuiasosopo (photo above) gets optioned to Class AAA.
Tuiasosopo still has options left and this was a pretty good time to use them in order to preserve some depth.
Another non-surprise? Franklin Gutierrez is not in today’s lineup. He’ll open the season on the disabled list at this point. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said Friday that unless Gutierrez got in the lineup by the weekend, he’d have to explore other options.
Team officials have quietly said the past few days that they don’t see any way for Gutierrez to make it back in time for opening day, given his lack of playing time.
So, who are the big winners this morning?
Well, you can start with the obvious — Josh Wilson, Tom Wilhelmsen and Chris Gimenez.
All three of those guys are still alive and kicking with just four days to go until final roster cuts are made. As of right now, the three are still in contention to land jobs, depending on which route the team takes.
Wilson and Wilhelmsen are on the 40-man roster, while Gimenez is not.
Looking at the team as it stands, by sending Ring down instead of keeping him as the club initially wanted to do, the M’s now have an extra roster spot to play with if they still plan on keeping five non-roster guys.
The four they are looking to carry will be Adam Kennedy, Ryan Langerhans, Jamey Wright and Chris Ray. But if they have planned to take five, they are now free to add the multi-positional Gimenez to the roster.
Gimenez isn’t an all-star at any position. But he can catch and play the infield and outfield corners.
With Gutierrez going on the DL and Miguel Olivo coming off a groin strain, the team could do worse than adding another guy who can serve as an emergency outfielder and catcher. Tuiasosopo and Olivo nearly collided with each other chasing down a pop-up on Friday night. If that happened in a game, all of a sudden, you’d be glad Gimenez was around (though he can only play one position at a time).
And if the plan is to add Gimenez as the second backup infielder, you’d have to think the M’s have some kind of late-camp trade lined up involving Wilson. He’s still a roster guy, but has to clear waivers first if you’re going to send him to Class AAA. So, instead of taking a risk and potentially losing him for nothing, you could at least get something back that helps you right now.
If the plan is to keep Wilson as the second infielder, the team would be making a statement that it’s confident enough in Adam Moore as the backup catcher should Olivo need some time to get completely back. Also, that Michael Saunders and Ryan Langerhans are capable enough of handling outfield duties on a regular basis in Gutierrez’s absence.
The bullpen implications of sending Ring down are very intriguing.
Because the two biggest survivors are Wilhelmsen and Cesar Jimenez. With Jimenez, who had a good outing yesterday but has looked bad all spring, you could give yourselves a second lefty and avoid losing him to a waiver claim since he’s out of options. But like I said, he’s looked pretty bad. You could also add Luke French to the bullpen. But you’ve already got Aaron Laffey there to give you longer innings from the left side, so, that doesn’t make all that much sense.
Or, more reasonably, you can add the high-90s fastball of Wilhelmsen to a bullpen that could use some more heat from the seventh inning onward. We told you last week that Wilhelmsen still had a longshot, outside chance of making it. Well, with Ring gone, his longshot bid just got a little closer.
The M’s have diverted from their original plan to keep Ring. So for now, all previous bets are off.
There is going to be a surprise or two on this final roster. The last few days of camp just got a little more interesting.