The Seattle Mariners have signed four players to one-year contracts, three of which are Major League ready and could earn an Opening Day roster spot.
Outfielder Michael Saunders, infielder Alex Liddi, right-handed reliever Carter Capps and Minor League pitcher Brandon Mauer all inked deals that ensure them a spot in the Mariners organization through the 2013 Major League Baseball season.
Saunders is expected to start in center field this season and hit eighth in the batting order. He put in a solid performance last year in which he posted career highs in almost every statistical category including batting average (.247), hits (125), home runs (19), runs batted in (57), doubles (31), walks (43), stolen bases (21), runs scored (71) and plate appearances (507). Seattle is hoping the 26-year-old will be able to improve on those numbers in 2013 and help the Mariners be competitive in the American League West.
Liddi primarily plays third base, but will be expected to fill in at several different infield positions this season if he wants to remain on the team in a reserve role. The 24-year-old appeared in 38 games last season in which he batted .224 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 116 at-bats. It will be a tough call whether he makes the team because there are several other players who are more capable at the plate than he is, although he is really the only backup third baseman.
Capps is practically a lock to make the 25-man roster when Seattle breaks camp. The 22-year-old posted a 3.96 earned run average, 28 strikeouts and two holds in 18 appearances in his first season in the majors last year. His first career out came against Derek Jeter and he is throwing 100 MPH heaters in spring training. The Mariners coaches are a big fan of Capps and thrilled to see what he can do. I believe not only will he make the Opening Day roster, but he will have one of the biggest roles in the bullpen this season.
Mauer went 9-2 with a 3.20 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 24 starts in Double-A last season. The 22-year-old right-hander will most likely make the leap to Triple-A this year, but do not expect to see him in the majors until September at the very earliest.