PEORIA, Ariz. -- Carlos González's bid to break camp with the Mariners gained traction on Tuesday, but it’s still unclear if he’ll be included on Seattle’s Opening Day roster.
The club scratched Braden Bishop from its Cactus League matinee against the Angels, and optioned him to Triple-A Tacoma as part of a series of transactions that created a clearer scope for the Opening Day roster.
The other notable moves were touted prospect Julio Rodriguez being re-assigned to Minor League camp and left-hander Nick Margevicius being optioned to Tacoma.
González entered Spring Training on a Minor League deal, and seemed like a long shot to make the team, due to the $750,000 salary he will earn by breaking camp on the big league roster, and the fact that the Mariners have been vocally adamant about allocating at-bats to younger players, such as the 26-year-old Bishop.
The club could keep the more affordable Tim Lopes, Dylan Moore or Patrick Wisdom for the fourth outfield spot -- all are righties that would even out an otherwise left-handed-heavy lineup. Lopes and Moore played in utility roles last year, but are natural infielders. Wisdom is hitting just .158 this spring, while Moore (.444) and Lopes (.435) have performed well.
“Our utility guys can play the outfield,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “In the mix, we've seen Dylan Moore out there. We've seen Timmy Lopes out there. We've put [José] Marmolejos out there. As we continue to shuffle some guys around, we'll be fine outfield-wise. We'll try to get the best 26 to go, and that's what we're working on.”
Jarred Kelenic, who took Bishop’s spot in the lineup on Tuesday, almost certainly will not break camp with the team. He’s only 20, still hasn’t played at Triple-A and is arguably the most focal figure in the Mariners’ rebuild, along with Rodriguez.
González was a three-time All-Star with the Rockies and the 2010 National League batting champion, but he’s stumbled over his last three seasons with Colorado, Cleveland and the Cubs, logging a .751 OPS (nearly 100 points off his 12-year career average) while seeing a significant drop in bat speed.
But the Mariners’ lineup lacks a legitimate veteran presence beyond Dee Gordon and Kyle Seager, and Mitch Haniger’s setbacks could linger well into the summer. González has been widely praised by his teammates as a confidante and leader. In camp, González is hitting .273 with a .678 OPS in 25 plate appearances this spring.
Bishop also has two Minor League options remaining and the club will have a 26th man this year, which gives them more personnel flexibility. Bishop has also struggled to produce offensively when healthy, hitting .107/.153/.107 in 60 plate appearances in 2019, while dealing with and recovering from a lacerated spleen. In camp, he is 1-for-11 with five strikeouts and two walks.
“Bish didn't have a great camp offensively,” Servais said. “He had an awesome camp last spring and really opened some eyes there. But the consistency that a lot of young players show is going to be key for him. He's got things to work on, no doubt. I think he'll be in our picture here at some point during the season.”
Rodriguez was the early story of Mariners camp after he wowed with his raw power and tools, in spite of his 19-year-old age. He hit .154/.267/.154 over 15 Cactus League plate appearances and was destined for Minor League camp sooner than later. Kelenic and Rodriguez are the Mariners Nos. 1 and 2 prospects, will comprise the club’s long-term outfield and are the focal figures in their rebuild.
Margevicius figures to spend most of the 2020 season in the Minors. But, he could also provide depth that Seattle could turn to for long-relief innings, or occasional spot starts. The Mariners were impressed with what Margevicius showed them this spring, but he’s just 23, and the club believes he needs further development after making the uncommon and significant leap from Class A Advanced to the Majors last season with the Padres.
The other players re-assigned to Minor League camp on Tuesday included outfielder Rymer Liriano, catchers Joseph Odom and Joe Hudson and left-hander Manny Bañuelos. Outfielder Jose Siri was claimed off waivers from the Giants.