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2014 Outlook: Seattle Mariners

Feb 2, 2014, 12:43 PM EST

USA Today Sports USA Today Sports

2013 record: 71-91, 4th place in AL West

Manager: Lloyd McClendon, 1st season

Estimated 2014 payroll: $82 million

Key additions: 2B Robinson Cano, OF Corey Hart, OF Logan Morrison, RHP Scott Baker, C John Buck

Key losses: 1B Kendrys Morales, OF Raul Ibanez, LHP Joe Saunders, LHP Oliver Perez

Projected lineup
CF Dustin Ackley
3B Kyle Seager
2B Robinson Cano
DH Corey Hart
1B Justin Smoak
LF Logan Morrison
RF Michael Saunders
C Mike Zunino
SS Brad Miller

Projected rotation
RHP Felix Hernandez
RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
RHP Taijuan Walker
RHP Scott Baker
LHP James Paxton

Top relievers
CL Danny Farquhar
RHP Tom Wilhelmsen
LHP Charlie Furbush

Biggest questions entering 2014
1. Who will hit besides Robinson Cano? The Mariners made the biggest splash of the winter, signing free agent Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million mega-contract. But Cano alone isn’t going to carry the AL’s least-productive lineup. Seattle needs another free agent addition, Corey Hart, to provide protection out of the cleanup spot. And it needs Justin Smoak, Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley to realize their full potential and bring some depth to a lineup that looks like it’s going to have to rely on its highest-paid player too much.

2. Can Dustin Ackley play center field? Cano’s signing bumps Ackley from second base to center field, where he saw some playing time last year. The 26-year-old is going to have to prove he can man the position every day in a respectable manner; otherwise, there isn’t another obvious spot to play him.

3. Is Taijuan Walker the real deal? Any chance the M’s had of trading for David Price this winter was dashed when it became clear they were not going to deal away their top prospect in any proposal. Is the 21-year-old right-hander legit? His stats last season at Class AA and Class AAA weren’t overwhelming, but clearly Seattle sees great things in him. It’s time to find out if the organization knew what it was talking about.

  1. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 2, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    The signing of Robinson Cano notwithstanding, the Mariners are not going to challenge this season. But they have some potentially excellent young pitchers moving toward the big leagues, as well as a couple of good position players. From an organizational standpoint, not trading Taijuan Walker for David Walker almost certainly makes sense, as does not going after any more costly (in dollars and/or draft choices) free agents of questionable quality/longevity (e.g., Nelson Cruz). At this point, the Mariners have to hope/expect that Mr. Cano will continue to be a top-flight hitter in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years of his contract. The wild card, however, is that their GM is unlikely to survive another disappointing season, so he may still — as a matter of self-preservation — add Mr. Cruz. In any event, I hope to be there the last weekend in August when the Nats visit the Pacific Northwest.





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