The Seattle Mariners have not made a decision on their final roster spot, but as noted by MLB.com, signs point to Jason Bay winning the job. Casper Wells may still be in the running, but in this case, Seattle may go with the veteran presence of Bay.
A tweet from Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times suggests that Bay may be the guy:
#Mariners hold off on the Casper Wells/Jason Bay decision. BUT..Wells staying in Ariz. to play minor league games, Bay going with M's to SLC— Geoff Baker (@gbakermariners) March 28, 2013
Assuming that Bay does make the team, it will be interesting to see what role he plays for the Mariners. Will he make a solid contribution, or will he simply occupy a spot on the Seattle bench?
Realistically, Bay is not necessarily going to be an impact starter unless Franklin Gutierrez cannot stay healthy or another outfielder is unproductive. At 34 years old, Bay was never intended to be a long-term solution.
The Mariners hope that spring training will be a reflection of Bay’s performance during the regular season. When you look at the 2012 stats, there were certainly signs that there was trouble ahead for Bay.
His 2012 stats looked like this:
Spring training: 46 at-bats, .196 average, 9 hits, 0 home runs, 0 RBI, 15 strikeouts
Regular season: 194 at-bats, .165 average, 32 hits, 8 home runs, 20 RBI, 58 strikeouts
His 2013 stats are significantly better, at least in spring training.
Spring training: 52 at-bats, .327 average, 17 hits, 2 home runs, 6 RBI, 17 strikeouts
Regular season: TBD
Obviously the spring training statistics have to be put in context. Many players hit well during camp, as they are facing a wide variety of pitching talent. In addition, the strikeouts are still a bit high, as Bay is striking out almost 33 percent of the time.
Still, the .327 average and a .407 on-base percentage are good signs that Bay has regained some confidence at the plate. Realistically, the Mariners do not expect Bay to be a dominating presence in the lineup, but it would be nice to have some solid offense off the bench or in an occasional start.
Again, Bay has not officially been awarded the final spot on the roster. However, it seems reasonable that he will be in a Seattle uniform on April 1 when the Mariners face the Oakland Athletics.
If Casper Wells does not make the squad, what will be his fate? Greg Johns of MLB.com tweeted this about the reason that Seattle has yet to announce a decision:
@tjmaurizio I don't think it's about seeing Wells. It's about buying time to make a move or for him to clear waivers.— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) March 28, 2013
It will be interesting to see if there is actually any market for Wells. What team wants a 28-year-old guy who hit .228 in 2012? At best, the Mariners might receive a low-level minor league or the always popular “player to be named later.”
It is time for Jason Bay to show that he can still play. Otherwise, he won’t be on this team for very long.