The Seattle Mariners added two of their newest additions, outfielder Cameron Maybin and right-handed reliever Adam Warren to the active roster Wednesday.
The surprises were who they removed to make room.
Outfielder Ben Gamel and right-handed reliever Chasen Bradford were optioned to Triple-A Tacoma in corresponding moves.
“It’s not all roses when you sit in this seat,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
“Both guys had been doing their jobs at a pretty high level, but the big thing is we’re trying to position ourselves as a team to get us to the playoffs, and you need a lot of different parts to do that. When you bring people in, somebody is going to be sent out, and I still think Ben Gamel and Chasen Bradford (will) play a big role in getting us to the playoffs. (It) could be in two weeks or on Sept. 1, but these guys are going to play. They’re going to be part of what we’re doing here. You just can only have 25 on the roster right now.”
The roster can expand to 40 players on Sept. 1.
But why Gamel and not Guillermo Heredia?
It really came down to offense vs. defense. Gamel has received the short end of the stick in many ways in the Mariners’ lineup, getting limited opportunities despite batting .290 (58-for-200) with 10 doubles, four triples and a home run this season.
Gamel is batting .338 (48-for-142) over his past 49 games.
Guillermo Heredia since June 1 is batting .178 with a .228 on-base percentage, six double and two home runs in 50 games (41 starts).
What Heredia does provide is a better defensive option, and Maybin will get the majority of the playing time in center field after the Mariners acquired him from the Miami Marlins on Tuesday, anyway.
Servais said the right-handed hitting Heredia will essentially be used in a platoon role with left-handed hitting Denard Span in left field for the time being. Once the left-handed hitting Gamel has spent 10 days in Triple-A, they could recall him if they get in a stretch of a heavy right-handed starting pitching.
Servais said they will still likely use Heredia in center field so Maybin isn’t so heavily relied on, and with Mitch Haniger struggling with his bat recently, they also have flexibility there.
Gamel can also play every outfield position, but not as well as Heredia, despite some negative marks for Heredia’s defensive metrics around the industry. Servais said the Mariners use their own in-house defensive metrics and that he’s even better in left field defensively compared to center field. Servais compared Heredia to Kansas City’s Alex Gordon as a defensive left fielder.
“I know, I trust my eyes and what they are telling me, too,” Servais said. “I think Guillermo is a well-above-average defender. I know he takes pride in that. I don’t quite understand why he’s gotten some of the negative marks. Fangraphs and Baseball Reference use all different kinds of formulas to spit it out. But in my eyes, he’s been very good — well above average.”
Maybe more of a platoon role won’t expose Heredia’s bat as much. He was batting .298 with a .417 on-base percentage from the start of the season until the end of May when he was alternating playing time with Ichiro and Gamel in left field.
Then Robinson Cano was suspended for 80 games for violating major league baseball’s joint drug agreement and Heredia was shifted into more of a full-time center field role with Dee Gordon moving back to second.
“Guillermo had been pretty much a platoon-type player and we exposed him to every day at-bats and it’s a little tougher for him,” Servais said. “It has not hurt his defense at all. What Maybin brings to the mix is he certainly has more experience. (He’s a) good defender, he steals bases, he works counts, he gets on base and for the past month he’s swing the bat very well. Hopefully he can bring more of what Denard Span has brought to our lineup as far as working counts and being a tough out.”
What about Bradford?
He has a 2.70 earned-run average in 34 relief appearances in 40 innings pitched this year. His ERA ranks 17th among qualified American League relievers. After beginning the season in Triple-A Tacoma, Bradford has been one of their most reliable relievers. Opponents are batting .228 against him.
But Bradford had minor-league options. The only other Mariners relievers with options on the active roster are Edwin Diaz and left-hander James Pazos. Nick Vincent, Juan Nicasio, Sam Tuivailala, Alex Colome and Zach Duke were out.
“Chasen has thrown the ball well and his numbers speak to that,” Servais said. “He understood, though. The conversation wasn’t easy, but he understands where we’re at as a team.”
“Both those guys (Gamel and Bradford) have options, so you can send them to the minor leagues and you keep your depth, which is a really good thing as you get going down the stretch.”
Kyle Seager spent his third day on the paternity list with his wife Julie Seager giving birth to their third child. He will return to the Mariners lineup on Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays and Servais said he’s been texting with him often.