By the time the Seattle Mariners get to camp in three months, the infield they begin working with could be without a single starter from Opening Day 2009.
Already, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt is gone. Third baseman Adrian Beltre is headed toward free agency and a National League team. That leaves second baseman Jose Lopez and first baseman Russell Branyan.
When GM Jack Zduriencik begins the serious off-season work of adding pieces to an 85-win team, Lopez is going to be one of the few tradeable players the Mariners are open to moving. He’s not a gifted middle infielder, he does have value.
And Branyan? He’s not signed yet, but more important, once he is he could become the team’s designated hitter. There are better defensive first baseman on the roster – Mike Carp, for instance.
What kind of infield might Seattle field?
Carp at first. Josh Wilson, Matt Tuiasosopo or Bill Hall at second. Jack Hannahan or Tui or Hall at third. Jack Wilson – or Josh – at shortstop.
Jack Wilson is due $8.2 million next season, which seems a lot for the player the Mariners saw the final two months last year.
From what the Mariners have on-hand – no fair signing free agents just yet – what infield alignment would you like to see?
Wager that manager Don Wakamatsu and his staff are mulling the same question.