Mariners Insider

Mariners notebook: Miller’s most-likely future? Starting shortstop

Post by Bob Dutton / The News Tribune on Dec. 13, 2014 at 10:48 am with 1 Comment »
December 13, 2014 10:14 pm
Where will Brad Miller (left) end up next season? The best bet is he opens the season as the Mariners' starting shortstop. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Where will Brad Miller (left) end up next season? The best bet is he opens the year as the Mariners’ starting shortstop. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

SEATTLE —While Brad Miller’s athleticism makes him a candidate for a position switch, multiple Mariners officials contend he is far more likely to open next season as the club’s starting shortstop.

“Look, there’s all sorts of speculation (about Miller),” one club official said, “and it’s easy to see why. The guy’s an athlete, and everybody — and I mean everybody — thinks he’s going to hit.

“That’s why lots of teams ask about him. But understand this: We’re not looking to trade him. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but it’s a lot less likely than some people seem to think.”

Miller was part of the package offered by the Mariners in an effort to acquire outfielder Matt Kemp from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That deal stalled when the Dodgers insisted that a pitcher, either Taijuan Walker or James Paxton, be included in the deal. Los Angeles subsequently traded Kemp to San Diego.

Miller also emerged as a candidate to shift to right field if the Mariners fail to fill that hole through a trade or a free-agent signing.

“I think that’s a last resort,” another club official said, “but it shows it shows how much we like his bat. His defense at short needs work, but we might have to live with that to get his bat (in the lineup).”

The Mariners view Chris Taylor as a steadier defensive player, and he batted .287 last season after a July 24 promotion from Triple-A Tacoma. But he had just eight extra-base hits, all doubles, in 151 plate appearances.

While Miller batted .221 last season, that largely reflects a dreadful start. He batted .268 after the All-Star break with a .330 on-base percentage and a .464 slugging percentage.

For comparison purposes, All-Star third baseman Kyle Seager finished the season with a .268/.334/.454 slash.

Miller also had 29 extra-base hits, including 10 homers, in 411 plate appearances. Only two American League shortstop had more homers and both — Alexei Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts — had far more at-bats.

Club officials project a spring battle between Miller and Taylor, and the loser could return to Tacoma to maintain regular playing time. It’s much the same situation as last spring, when Miller battled Nick Franklin for the job.

“I think we’re in a unique situation,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “because we have two major-league starting shortstops. We’ll let them play in spring training and see which is best. Open the season and go from there.

“We’re in a nice position. A lot of clubs don’t have that depth. We certainly have some depth.”

Also: If the Mariners, after signing Nelson Cruz, find another right-handed hitter (or switch-hitter) to play right field, that makes it easier to include Miller’s left-handed bat in what, last season, was a lefty-heavy lineup.

“I think this kid (Miller) is going to hit,” McClendon said. “You look at what he did in the minors. That doesn’t just happen. And we’ve seen a little of that up here. He’s a good athlete. He can do a lot of things.”

 

REPORT: CABRERA TO WHITE SOX

It appears free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera won’t be coming to the Mariners.

A Chicago radio station — WSCR (670 AM) — reported Saturday that Cabrera, 30, reached a three-year deal with the White Sox for $45 million.

The Mariners were long viewed as a favorite to sign Cabrera, but they appeared unwilling to move beyond $42 million for a three-year deal.

San Francisco and Kansas City also expressed interest in Cabrera, a switch-hitter who batted .301 last season for Toronto with 16 homers and 73 RBIs in 139 games.

The White Sox did not confirm the report, but many clubs don’t confirm free-agent signings until the player passes a physical examination.

The Mariners are now expected to explore other possibilities to fill their need for a right fielder. Possibilities include free-agent outfielder Alex Rios and potential trade targets Justin Upton (Atlanta) or Seth Smith (San Diego).

If the White Sox sign Cabrera, they would likely accelerate efforts to trade Dayan Viciedo, who has drawn interest in the past from the Mariners.

It appears free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera won’t be coming to the Mariners.

A Chicago radio station — WSCR (670 AM) — reported Saturday that Cabrera, 30, reached a three-year deal with the White Sox for $45 million.

The Mariners were long viewed as a favorite to sign Cabrera, but they appeared unwilling to move beyond $42 million for a three-year deal.

San Francisco and Kansas City also expressed interest in Cabrera, a switch-hitter who batted .301 last season for Toronto with 16 homers and 73 RBIs in 139 games.

The White Sox did not confirm the report, but many clubs don’t confirm free-agent signings until the player passes a physical examination.

The Mariners are now expected to explore other possibilities to fill their need for a right fielder. Possibilities include free-agent outfielder Alex Rios and potential trade targets Justin Upton (Atlanta) or Seth Smith (San Diego).

If the White Sox sign Cabrera, they would likely accelerate efforts to trade Dayan Viciedo, who has drawn interest in the past from the Mariners.

 

WINTER NOTABLES

Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez’s eye-popping winter season in Venezuela concluded when he reached the 30-inning limit set by the Mariners.

Ramirez, 24, finished 2-0 in five starts while yielding just one earned run in 30 innings for a 0.30 ERA. He gave up 15 hits, struck out 22 and walked four while holding opponents to a .149 batting average.

The Mariners face a decision next spring on Ramirez, who is out of options and can’t be sent to the minors without clearing waivers. He was 1-6 with a 5.26 ERA last season in 17 games, including 14 starts.

Left-hander David Rollins, selected Thursday by the Mariners from Houston in the Rule 5 Draft.
Left-hander David Rollins, selected Thursday by the Mariners from Houston in the Rule 5 Draft.

***Left-hander David Rollins, selected Thursday by the Mariners in the Rule 5 Draft, has a 2.16 ERA in five outings for Santurce in the Puerto Rican Winter League.

Rollins, 24, is 0-2 but has given up only two earned runs and six hits in 8 1/3 innings. He was 3-4 with a 3.81 ERA last season in 27 games, including 12 starts, for Double-A Corpus Christi in the Houston system.

Rule 5 rules require a player to remain on an active major-league roster for the next year or be offered back to his former club.

Leave a comment Comments → 1
  1. AZBubba71 says:

    No Melky Cabrera. It would have been nice, but I can’t see paying him $14 million over 4 years….though I am growing weary of the Mariners attempting to be “a little bit pregnant” in their efforts. If ownership and Z made the decision to go for the playoffs and the World Series while Cano/Hernandez/Seager are still all in their primes, than they should have caved a bit and offered the 4th year…maybe at $12-13 million per year. Oh, well…not that big of a deal. I still like James Jones…though he is still very young.

    Bob,
    Any word if the Mariners are interested in bringing back Chris Young? At worst, he could be the designated long relief guy in the bullpen and save the staff wear and tear in blow out losses…and a spot starter when injuries occur. At best, he is a back of the rotation guy until he wears down. I like him a lot in that long relief role if the price is right.

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