Mariners’ Roster Shuffle Begins, Rule 5 Eligibles

The Seattle Mariners announced Wednesday four roster moves, including a waiver claim of left-handed reliever Gabe Speier from the Kansas City Royals.

The club also outrighted RHR Casey Sadler and LHR Ryan Borucki, both have elected to become free agents.

Seattle also made a small trade, because, of course they did. Right-hander Easton McGee heads west from Boston for cash considerations.

That’s the news, but what’s it all mean?

The Mariners’ 40-man roster remains at 36 one week from the Reserve List date, the last chance to maneuver and protect players from the Rule 5 Draft. Expect more moves as the club preps for that deadline.

Oh, here’s a list of player the Mariners have to protect or leave exposed for the Rule 5 Draft:

No. 14 — Prelander Berroa, RHP
No. 15 — Jonatan Clase, CF
No. 16 — Robert Perez Jr., 1B
No. 18 — Cade Marlowe, OF
No. 24 — Isaiah Campbell, RHP
No. 25  — Juan Mercedes, RHP
No. 26 — Travis Kuhn, RHP
No. 27 — Joseph Hernandez, RHP
No. 30 — Stephen Kolek, RHP
No. 31 — Milkar Perez, 3B
No. 43 — Yeury Tatiz, LHP
No 44 — Luis Curvelo, RHP
No. 45 — Sam Carlson, RHP
No. 46 — Devin Sweet, RHP
No. 62 — Joe Rizzo, 3B
No. 66 — Jorge Benitez, LHP
No. 67 — Freuddy Batista, C
No. 69 — Jose Caguana, C
No. 72 — Arturo Guerrero, OF
No. 74 — Josias De Los Santos, RHP
No. 75 — Brayan Perez, LHP
No. 78 — Logan Rinehart, RHP
No. 79 — Raul Alcantara, LHP
No. 83 — Ty Adcock, RHP
No. 95 — Tim Elliott, RHP
No. 97 — Jake Anchia, C
No. 103 — Dayeison, Arias, RHP
No. 104 — Juan Querecuto, RHP
No. 107 — Max Roberts, LHP
No. 108 — Patrick Frick, SS
No. 109 — Adam Hill, RHP
No. 113 — Kyle Hill, RHP
No. 115 — Kelvin Nunez, RHP

There may be others I’m not thinking of, particularly from down the system into short-season ball and the DSL.

Expect the club to protect Berroa, who has a chance to help in some role in 2023, and possible Marlowe, whom they like as an athlete with some plate skills.

Clase and Perez Jr. don’t have much of a shot to stick in the majors for a year right now, so they likely don’t need to be added. Kuhn and Campbell may be the most likely to be selected of the rest of the eligibles, but aren’t necessarily 40-man worthy at this point.

The club’s current roster could be cut as low as 32 by finding ways to boot the likes of Brennan Bernardino, Justus Sheffield, Brian O’Keefe, the recently-added Luke Weaver, the more recently-added Speier and McGee, as well as the shot at trades, however minor or major they may be.

Note: Players on the 60-day IL count against the 40-man during the offseason.

McGee, 25 this winter, is a five-pitch arm sitting 91-94 mph with a sinker, an upper-80s cutter, mid-80s changeup, and the occasional mid-70s curveball. He throws a lot of sliders, a 78-81 mph slurvy breaker.

He was a 4th round pick by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2016, two picks ahead of Shane Bieber and three behind lefty Thomas Burrows, the Mariners’ selection in that round.

McGee made his big-league debut for the Rays this past season, tossing three scoreless frames on October 2, allowing four hits and striking out a batter. The Red Sox claimed McGee October 5 from the Rays.

He’s built like a frontline starter, and still has some physical projection left, and in a full-time relief role the stuff may tick up, so there’s that.

Speier, 27, spent 2022 split between three levels, including tossing 19.1 innings with the Royals. He debuted in the bigs in 2019.

The southpaw is mainly a three-pitch reliever, sitting 93-95 mph with a four-seamer and sinker, setting up an above-average slider. He has a changeup he’ll pull out on occasion. Hes been up to 96-97 before and hides the ball well, giving him a chance, including versus RHBs.

Left-handed batters are 10-for-59 off Speier in the majors, but he’s struggled versus righies enough to suggest he’s more of a fringe roster arm who is up-and-down between the big club and Triple-A.

Sadler missed all of 2022 with a shoulder injury that required March surgery to remove a cyst under his rotator cuff and a tear in his labrum. His status is unknown, but I imagine there’s a good chance the club brings him back on a minor league deal and if he’s healthy he has a great shot to be part of the 2023 bullpen.

Don’t expect this set of transactions to be the last this week, as the club preps for the Rule 5, and gets started on roster improvements. I do expect Seattle to be aggressive early on free agents and trades, even if any bigger signings they make likely wait until December or beyond.

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Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 and spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI. Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio.

Find Jason’s baseball podcast, Baseball Things, right here.

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