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with Tom Hayden

Off-season overview, Spring Training preview; The first look at the 2017 Seattle Mariners

THREE DAYS until Pitchers and Catchers report to Peoria, Arizona

BY: Tom Hayden

Mariners 365, Holden, MA -----

What an off-season it has been for these Seattle Mariners, as GM Jerry Dipoto and Manager Scott Servais have been hard at work in trying to improve this ball club day in and day out. Certainly since Dipoto was hired after the 2015 season, there has already been improvements from his hard work. Despite not making the playoffs again in 2016, the M's managed to improve with a 10-win record difference from 2015 (86-76). Out of all 30 Major League ball clubs, the Mariners have been the busiest, and have made the most roster moves, over the course of what has felt like a rather quick off-season. In this article, I'll break down all of the Mariners off-season additions and subtractions in detail, as well as put together a projected lineup, starting pitching rotation, and position layout as Spring Training commences in just three days! 

As the 2016 season came to an end, the Seattle Mariners were what I like to describe as a puzzle that consisted of pieces that weren't quite together. An already solid ball club, who came in second place among a tough AL Western Division, and stayed in playoff contention until the final weekend of the season, still had areas that needed to be completely removed and repaired come the off-season. This was evident right away, as Jerry Dipoto and Scott Servais got to work right away, Wednesday November 2nd, to be exact. 

NOVEMBER - The Mariners claimed RHP Ryan Weber from the Atlanta Braves off of waivers. Weber was later DFA'd, however. LHP Charlie Furbush, RHP Ryan Cook, and C Steve Clevenger all outrighted to AAA Tacoma. The Texas Rangers claimed RHP Adrian Sampson off of waivers from the M's. RHP Drew Storen, 1B Adam Lind, 1B Dae-Ho Lee, RF Franklin Gutierrez, C Chris Iannetta all elect free agency. Houston Astros claim OF Norichika Aoki off of waivers from the M's. Mariners claim LHP Dean Kiekhefer off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mariners make a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers sending LHP Vidal Nuño to LAD in exchange for C Carlos Ruiz. C Steve Baron was released. The Mariners make a trade with the Oakland Athletics sending RHP Paul Blackburn to OAK in exchange for 3B Danny Valencia. Free agent RHP Ryan Cook signed. RHP Peter Tago signed off of free agency to a minor league deal and invited to Spring Training. RHP Blake Perry signed off of free agency to a minor league deal. Mariners sign free agent C Steve Baron to minor league deal, invite him to Spring Training. RHP Daury Perez signed off of free agency to a minor league contract. RHP Christopher Marte signed off of free agency to a minor league contract. RHP Elias Espino signed off of free agency to a minor league deal. RHP Tom Wilhelmsen designated for assignment. Mariners select the contract of 1B D.J. Peterson from AAA Tacoma. Mariners select the contract of LHP Paul Fry from AAA Tacoma. Mariners select the contract of RHP Thyago Vieira from AA Arkansas. The Mariners make a trade with the New York Yankees sending RHP Zack Littell to NYY in exchange for LHP James Pazos. The Mariners make a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays sending RHP Andrew Kittredge, 1B Dalton Kelly, and RHP Dylan Thompson to TB in exchange for 3B Richie Shaffer and SS Taylor Motter. OF Stefen Romero released. The Chicago Cubs claimed LHP David Rollins off waivers from the M's. SHP Pat Venditte designated for assignment. The Mariners make a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks sending RHP Taijuan Walker, and SS Ketel Marte to ARI in exchange for SS Jean Segura, CF Mitch Haniger, and LHP Zac Curtis. The Mariners make a trade with the Atlanta Braves sending RF Alex Jackson and a player to be named later to ATL in exchange for RHP Max Povse and RHP Rob Whalen. Mariners sign RHP Lindsey Caughel off of free agency to a minor league contract. 

NOVEMBER ADDITIONS- LHP Dean Kiekhefer, C Carlos Ruiz, 3B Danny Valencia, RHP Ryan Cook, LHP James Pazos, SS Taylor Motter, SS Jean Segura, OF Mitch Haniger, LHP Zac Curtis, RHP Rob Whalen. 

NOVEMBER SUBTRACTIONS- RHP Adrian Sampson, OF Norichika Aoki, LHP Vidal Nuño, C Steve Baron, RHP Paul Blackburn, RHP Tom Wilhelmsen, RHP Zack Littell, RHP Andrew Kittredge, 1B Dalton Kelly, RHP Dylan Thompson, OF Stefen Romero, LHP David Rollins, SHP Pat Venditte, RHP Taijuan Walker, SS Ketel Marte, RF Alex Jackson. 

DECEMBER - The Mariners signed RHP Christian Bergman off of free agency to a minor league deal and invited him to Spring Training. C Sebastian Valle signed off of free agency to a minor league contract. SHP Pat Venditte outrighted to AAA Tacoma. RHP Ryan Weber outrighted to AAA Tacoma. RHP Zach Lee designated for assignment. LHP Dean Kiekhefer designated for assignment. Mariners sign RHP Casey Fien off of free agency. Mariners sign LHP Marc Rzepczynski off of free agency. Mariners make a trade with the San Francisco Giants sending a player to be named later to SF in exchange for RHP Chris Heston. 3B Richie Shaffer designated for assignment. RHP Kevin Gadea claimed off of waivers by the Tampa Bay Rays. LHP Dean Kiekhefer outrighted to AAA Tacoma. Mariners make a trade with the Atlanta Braves sending LHP Tyler Pike to ATL. Mariners sign C Ryan Casteel off of free agency to a minor league deal. RHP Arquimedes Caminero released. Mariners sign RF Kyle Waldrop off of free agency to a minor league deal and invite him to Spring Training. 

DECEMBER ADDITIONS- RHP Casey Fien, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, RHP Chris Heston. 

DECEMBER SUBTRACTIONS - RHP Zach Lee, LHP Dean Kiekhefer, RHP Kevin Gadea, LHP Tyler Pike, RHP Arquimedes Caminero.

JANUARY - The Mariners make a trade with the Kansas City Royals sending RHP Nathan Karns to KC in exchange for OF Jarrod Dyson. The Mariners make a trade with the Baltimore Orioles sending RF Seth Smith to BAL in exchange for RHP Yovani Gallardo and cash. Mariners sign LF Willie Argo off of free agency to a minor league deal. Mariners make a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays sending SS Carlos Vargas, CF Mallex Smith, and RHP Ryan Yarbrough to TB in exchange for LHP Drew Smyly. RHP Cody Martin designated for assignment. The Mariners make a trade with the Atlanta Braves sending LHP Luiz Gohara and LHP Thomas Burrows to ATL in exchange for CF Mallex Smith and RHP Shae Simmons. RHP Cody Martin outrighted to AAA Tacoma. Mariners sign RHP Jean Machi off of free agency to a minor league deal and invite him to Spring Training. C Jesus Sucre designated for assignment. The Mariners make a trade with the Oakland Athletics sending C Jason Goldstein to OAK in exchange for LHP Dillon Overton. RHP Jonathan Aro designated for assignment. Mariners claim C Tuffy Gosewisch off waivers from the Atlanta Braves. Mariners invite C Sebastian Valle, C Tyler Marlene, C Marcus Littlewood, 2B Tyler Smith, and OF Tyler O'Neill to Spring Training. Mariners sign LHP Nick Hagadone off of free agency to a minor league deal.

 JANUARY ADDITIONS - OF Jarrod Dyson, RHP Yovani Gallardo, LHP Drew Smyly, CF Mallex Smith, RHP Shae Simmons, LHP Dillon Overton, C Tuff Gosewisch.

JANUARY SUBTRACTIONS - RHP Nathan Karns, RF Seth Smith, SS Carlos Vargas, CF Mallex Smith, RHP Ryan Yarbrough, RHP Cody Martin, LHP Thomas Burrows, LHP Luiz Gohara, C Jesus Sucre, C Jason Goldstein, RHP Jonathan Aro.

FEBRUARY - Mariners invite RHP Jonathan Aro, and C Jesus Sucre to Spring Training. C Jesus Sucre and RHP Jonathan Aro both outrighted to AAA Tacoma. The Mariners make a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays sending C Jesus Sucre to TB for a player to be named later. The Los Angeles Dodgers claim OF Franklin Gutierrez off of waivers from the M's. 

FEBRUARY SUBTRACTION (as of 2/11/17) - OF Franklin Gutierrez. 

Below you will find my projected lineup and rotation for the upcoming 2017 season, as well as some Spring Training games. 

Projected Lineup for Opening Day 2017- Jarrod Dyson* LF, Jean Segura SS, Robinson Canó 2B, Nelson Cruz DH, Kyle Seager 3B, Mike Zunino C, Dan Vogelbach** 1B, Mitch Haniger RF, Leonys Martin CF. *Will platoon with Guillermo Heredia **Will platoon with Danny Valencia. 

BENCH - Carlos Ruiz C, Danny Valencia 1B/OF, Shawn O'Malley INF/OF, Taylor Motter INF, Guillermo Heredia OF, Ben Gamel OF, D.J. Peterson 1B, Mike Freeman INF, RHP Chris Heston, RHP Rob Whalen, RHP Tony Zych, RHP Casey Fien, LHP Paul Fry, LHP James Pazos, LHP Zac Curtis. 

STARTING ROTATION - RHP Felix Hernandez, LHP James Paxton, RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, LHP Drew Smyly, RHP Yovani Gallardo. 

BULLPEN - LHP Ariel Miranda, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, RHP Shae Simmons, RHP Nick Vincent, RHP Evan Scribner, RHP Dan Altavilla, RHP Edwin Diaz. 

This is Tom Hayden signing off saying Go Mariners! Follow @Mariners365 on Twitter and Instagram for daily Spring Training updates. #TrueToTheBlue #GOMS

Oakland jumps on Felix, Mariners early in final game of 2016

Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

10/2 vs OAK by TOM HAYDEN

FINISHING 2016 RECORD - 86-76 |  2015 - 76-86

The Mariners were narrowly defeated on Sunday afternoon on what was a beautiful day in Seattle, a beautiful day for the final contest of what was a great 2016 season. Falling by a final score of 3-2 to the A's, it was a battle of defenses for sure. Sunday was Felix Day at the Safe as the King took the ball for his final start of the 2016 season. Hernandez didn't have his best day, however, as Oakland bats found ways to put up their runs early on him. Hernandez said in a press conference following the game that he knew he needed to get into better shape over this off-season, so he will pitch in a winter league and for his home of Venezuela in the 2016 World Baseball Classic. A handful of other pitchers will also look into getting off-season surgery. RHP Tony Zych, RHP Steve Cishek, and RHP Taijuan Walker are among those considering this. 2B Robinson Canó will play in the World Baseball Classic for his home as well, the Dominican Republic, this off-season. Back on track to Game 162 on Sunday, however, the Mariners suffered their 76th loss of the season, a 10-game improvement from last year. The 2016 Seattle Mariners finished with a final record of 86-76, whereas last year, the M's finished with a W-L record of 76-86. This team is certainly moving in the right direction, and I will be happy to be a part of it. 

On the mound in this one, RHP Felix Hernandez took the ball for what was his 25th and final start of 2016. Hernandez went 3.0 innings giving up 3 runs on 4 hits (earned) while walking none and striking out 3 A's on the day. Felix gave up a solo home run to Stephen Vogt in the first inning. Unfortunately, Felix finishes 2016 with a W-L record of 11-8, and an ERA of 3.82 in just over 150.0 innings pitched. In relief in this one, SHP Pat Venditte (5.73 ERA) got things started going 2.0 innings giving up 2 hits, with 2 walks and a strikeout. RHP Cody Martin (3.86 ERA) then went 2.0 innings giving up just 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 1. RHP Arquimedes Caminero (3.56 ERA) went 1.0 inning tossing a walk and a strikeout. RHP Dan Altavilla (0.73 ERA) then finished up the 2016 season for the Mariners on the mound going 1.0 inning with a pair of strikeouts. 

Offensively in this one, the M's combined to put up 2 runs on 6 hits off of Oakland pitching. CF Guillermo Heredia (.250 AVG) went 2-for-4 with a single and a 2-run double in this one. The double was Heredia's 3rd of the season. Heredia's 2-RBI day from the double late in the ball game now gives him 12 for the year. 2B Mike Freeman (.227 AVG) got the start at second base as Robinson Canó batted as the DH in the ball game. Freeman went 2-for-3 at the dish with a pair of singles. LF Ben Gamel (.188 AVG) went 1-for-3 with his 2nd double of the season. 1B Dae-Ho Lee (.253 AVG) went 1-for-3 as well with a single. 3B Kyle Seager (.278 AVG) launched a ball that would've went right over that right field Safeco wall, but unfortunately was robbed in the bottom of the ninth inning. The homer would've have not only tied the game up, but it would've been for Kyle Seager's 100th RBI of the season, and 31st home run. 

WHAT'S NEXT? : 

Unfortunately, we have to wait a bit until we play some Mariners Baseball again. #Mariners365 will be back for sure covering games starting in late February 2017, as the M's head to Peoria, Arizona for some Cactus League Baseball. Until then, however, we do have a long off-season. Mariners 365 is called "Mariners 365" for a reason. No matter what day of the year, I'll be tweeting, instagramming, discussing, and writing about all things Mariners' Baseball. There will be a few detailed Blogs to come discussing individual stats from the 2016 season, as well as projections for 2017. Preparation for 2017 starts now. Follow @Mariners365 on Twitter for plenty of things to interact with over the Off-Season. Also, @Mariners365 will be coming back to Instagram in November, and will be used daily throughout the 2017 season, just like the twitter is. 

This is Tom Hayden, signing off for the last time of 2016, saying Go Mariners! Stay #TrueToTheBlue. 

Mariners fall to A's in back-and-forth thriller, get eliminated from Post-Season contention

Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

10/1 vs OAK by TOM HAYDEN

86-75, Eliminated from AL WEST, Eliminated from AL WILD CARD race ----

Our 2016 Seattle Mariners were narrowly defeated on Saturday night in Seattle in what was one of the craziest games I have ever watched. Unfortunately, the Mariners no longer have a shot at playoff baseball this year, as both the Toronto Blue Jays won, and we lost. It was one heck of a run, and we fought to just about the end... Game 161. We were in this thing for 161 out of 162 games games this season, which is a very positive thing to look at despite missing the playoffs again. In this blog today, I'll breakdown last night's game in detail. I will be releasing a Blog covering a few major parts of the 2016 season in what will be almost like a reflection, sometime in the coming days. In this game on Saturday night, to stay on topic, the Mariners fell in 10 innings to the Oakland Athletics. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma took the ball for his 33rd start of the season, the most by any Mariners' pitcher this year. Kuma had himself a quick outing, which was ultimately a problem in the long run. Offensively, the Mariners had a solid night, no doubt, despite some hiccups at the bottom of the lineup. With the loss, the Mariners have fallen to 86-75 on the season with 1 game left play on Sunday (10/2) afternoon. As I mentioned earlier, unfortunately, the 2016 Seattle Mariners have been eliminated from Post-Season contention. It will certainly be an off-season of positivity however, as we know how close we can get. We just need to make some changes here and there, obviously. 

Offensively in this one, the Mariners combined to put up an impressive 8 runs on 13 hits in the crazy ball game. CF Leonys Martin (.247 AVG) started the scoring up in the bottom of the second inning as drove a single to center field to score Kyle Seager. Martin went 1-for-4 on the night with that hit, and the RBI was his 47th of the season. LF Norichika Aoki (.283 AVG) who has been one of the clutchest hitters for the Mariners the season, especially this month, went 2-for-5 at the plate with a single and his 24th double of the season for an RBI and a run scored. The RBI was Aoki's 28th of the year. DH Nelson Cruz (.287 AVG) went 1-for-6 on the night with probably the most important hit of the Mariners' season, even though they did lose the ball game. If Seattle had won, this would have been the biggest hit the Mariners had ever seen since that 2001 year. Down 7-5 in the bottom of the seventh inning with Robinson Canó on at first base, Cruz LAUNCHED a 2-run home run to left to tie the ball game up at 7 a piece! The home run was Nelly's 43rd of the season, and the 2 RBI now gives him 105 on the year. 2B Robinson Canó (.299 AVG) had another flat-out fantastic night, and literally has had one of the best season's we have  seen from him in his career. Canó went 2-for-5 at the plate with 2 runs scored and 3 RBI! Robbie smacked his 39th home run of the season for a 2-run home run in the fifth inning. Robbie also had an RBI single in the ball game. With the 3-RBI day for Canò, he now has 103 to date! RF Ben Gamel (.178 AVG) tried to keep the Mariners alive a couple of times in this one as he pinch-hit for Seth Smith late in the ball game. Gamel went 2-for-2 with 2 very clutch hits in this one. One of which kept the Mariners alive in the ninth inning and sent the ball game to extra innings, as Gamel drilled an RBI single to right field to score Mike Freeman. The RBI was Gamel's 5th of the season. Mike Freeman (.158 AVG)  pinch-hit for Ketel Marte in the at-bat prior to Gamel's hit, and he got on with his 1st double of the season to put himself into scoring position. 

On the mound in this one, RHP Hisashi Iwakuma took the ball for his 33rd start of the season, and unfortunately, it was a short one. Iwakuma was only able to go 3.2 innings giving up 5 runs on 9 hits (all 5 earned) while walking 1 and striking out 5 A's in his outing. Constantly balls were just getting hit into the gaps of Safeco Field by that Oakland offense. Unfortunately, it was a bad night to have a... bad night. But, it happens, and it happened to Hisashi on Saturday night. Our most consistent pitcher of 2016 was Iwakuma, and we wouldn't have been in this situation without him. Hisashi's outing was a no decision, so he finish off 2016 with an individual W-L record of 16-12 with an ERA of 4.12 in just under 200.0 innings pitched this season. In relief on Saturday night, RHP Drew Storen (5.23 ERA) immediately came into the game going 0.1 innings with 1 strikeout. LHP Vidal Nuño (3.53 ERA) went 1.1 inning giving up 1 run on 2 hits (run earned) with 1 strikeout. RHP Nick Vincent (3.73 ERA) went 1.0 inning giving up 1 run on 1 hit (run earned) while striking out 1. Vincent gave up a solo home run. RHP Evan Scribner (0.00) continues to keep that ERA at 0 as he went 0.2 innings tossing a blank frame. RHP Steve Cishek (2.81 ERA) went 0.2 innings giving up 1 run on 2 hits with 1 walk and a strikeout. Cishek threw a ball away in a pick-off attempt to first base, and the runner would then advance to score in the inning. RHP closer Edwin Diaz (2.79 ERA) then tossed the final 2.1 innings of the ball game giving up 1 run on 2 hits (earned run) while walking none and striking out an impressive 3 A's on the night. Diaz suffered the loss in this one, and now has an individual W-L record of 0-4 on the season in just over 50.0 innings pitched. 

WHAT'S NEXT? : 

Game 162! The 2016 Seattle Mariners will now look to cap of this crazy season with a win come Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field in Seattle for series finale baseball with these A's. Looking to help the Mariners get that final W will be RHP Felix Hernandez (11-7, 3.71 ERA), making what will be his 25th and final start of 2016. King Felix and the M's are set and ready to take on OAK RHP Sean Manaea (6-9, 3.89 ERA). Be sure to catch the final game of what has been a great 2016 season for the Mariners on ROOT Sports NW for watching or listen in on KTTH 770 Radio! First pitch start time is scheduled for 12:10 PM PAC, 3:10 PM ET! 

This is Tom Hayden signing off saying Go Mariners! Stay #TrueToTheBlue. 

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