PEORIA, Ariz. -- With Opening Day now just 11 days away, the Mariners trimmed their Major League camp to 39 players on Sunday, sending five players to the Minor League side, including promising relief prospect Art Warren and backup catching contender David Freitas.Warren, the Mariners' No. 8 prospect per MLB
PEORIA, Ariz. -- With Opening Day now just 11 days away, the Mariners trimmed their Major League camp to 39 players on Sunday, sending five players to the Minor League side, including promising relief prospect Art Warren and backup catching contender David Freitas.
Warren, the Mariners' No. 8 prospect per MLB Pipeline, will likely open the season at Double-A Arkansas after pitching last season for Class A Advanced Modesto, according to manager Scott Servais.
Also sent down were right-handed relievers Mike Morin and Shawn Armstrong and outfielder John Andreoli. Freitas was the only one of the five on the 40-man roster, so he was technically optioned to Triple-A Tacoma, while the others were re-assigned to Minor League camp.
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The decision on Freitas leaves the backup catching job behind starter Mike Zunino to Mike Marjama, though Tuffy Gosewisch also remains in camp.
"We want to give Marjama a chance to catch more regularly here this last week, he and Zunino back and forth," Servais said." It was a good competition. I like a lot of things that Freitas brings. We just think Marjama has had a better spring to this point."
It's possible the club could still pursue a trade or waiver pickup as other teams make their final cuts. Carlos Perez of the Angels is out of Minor League options and he is a catcher with some Major League experience who figures to be available. The 27-year-old was acquired by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto while he was with the Angels in 2015 and Perez has played 184 games over the past three years with the Halos.
Three of the remaining 39 players in camp figure to open the year on the disabled list -- right-handed starters Erasmo Ramirez and Hisashi Iwakuma and left fielder Ben Gamel. So essentially there are still 36 players competing for the final 25-man roster spots when the season opens on March 29 against the Indians at Safeco Field.
The Mariners likely will open the season with an eight-man bullpen and just four starters due to three off days in the first nine days, and that picture is clarifying with just 10 relievers still in camp.
The remaining relievers are right-handers Edwin Diaz, Juan Nicasio, Nick Vincent, David Phelps, Dan Altavilla, Casey Lawrence, Chasen Bradford and Ryan Cook and lefties Marc Rzepczynski and James Pazos.
Warren never was projected to make the club, but he took advantage of his opportunity to open some eyes.
"The last couple outings he had maybe a little of the dead arm, a young player who was juiced up early," Servais said. "Maybe not quite as sharp as he was early, but I thought he showed very well in this camp."
Armstrong, a 27-year-old acquired from the Indians in December, has gone the opposite direction as he's been able to build up arm strength after a slow start and threw a pair of scoreless innings in Saturday's 4-1 win over the A's in Mesa.
Both Armstrong and Morin -- who'd been claimed off waivers from the Royals in December -- cleared waivers recently to move them off the 40-man roster, but were kept in the organization.
"I think [Armstrong's] arm is starting to get back to where it was when we acquired him," Servais said. "It was down early in camp. There's a reason we thought at that point in getting him off the roster. Both he and Morin were out of options, so you kind of have to play the roster game there a little bit. We're glad to have them both in our organization. I think they'll definitely help us at some point, but right now where we're at going forward, we'll stick with the crew we've got now."
Andreoli's departure leaves the Mariners with six outfielders, including Gamel. That group likely will be trimmed to four, with Dee Gordon, Mitch Haniger, Ichiro Suzuki and Guillermo Heredia the likely crew. But Kirk Nieuwenhuis, a 30-year-old with 414 games of big league experience, also remains in camp.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.