Dylan Moore wasted no time last summer in showing the Seattle Mariners he can be an every-day player at the big league level.
When spring training shut down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Moore was in the mix with several other versatile players the Mariners had in camp battling for a utility spot.
Moore was the club’s go-to utility player as a rookie in 2019. He was looking to resume that role in 2020 and become more of an everyday contributor.
Before camps were shut down in Arizona, he seemed ready to prove he could produce on a regular basis for Seattle’s young team, and was hitting .400 through his seven Cactus League appearances with a team-leading five stolen bases.
He spent the shutdown continuing to refine the swing consistency he had focused on that offseason, shortening up his approach to stay more direct to the ball and limit his swing-and-miss.
A positive test result delayed Moore’s arrival to summer camp at T-Mobile Park in July, but when he returned to the field about 10 days before Seattle’s opener in Houston, he locked in on breaking camp with the big league club.
“Once I got back, I was still trying to make the team as the utility player,” Moore said last week on a video call with reporters from the Mariners’ spring training complex in Peoria. “I knew that my time was going to be short in summer camp, but I just kind of went all out.
” … I was confident in what I had worked on, and I knew that I just needed a chance to show everyone what I was capable of doing.”
Moore made his second consecutive Opening Day roster, and though he didn’t play in the opening series against the Astros, he made a quick impact when the Mariners headed west to Anaheim, scattering four hits, including a home run, and three RBI across his first nine plate appearances of the season.
Moore continued to produce at the plate in the series that followed, and had carved out a spot as the Mariners’ No. 2 hitter in early August.
Where he played defensively varied — he ended the season with 27 appearances in the outfield, 10 at second base, three at first, three at shortstop and two at third — but his ability to move between the infield and outfield gave the Mariners options to slot Moore into the batting order each day.
Moore’s aptitude in the outfield in particular — reigning American League Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis was the only player to appear in more than 30 games in the outfield for the Mariners — gave way to opportunity, as Seattle tried out a total of 10 players in left and right field.
Moore capitalized on the regular playing time — his 13 appearances in both left and right field were his most at any position in 2020 — and continued to command Seattle’s attention with his bat.
“He is an absolute stud,” veteran third baseman Kyle Seager, Seattle’s most tenured player, said in September. “He hammers balls. He hits the ball so hard. The defensive versatility is great. He can really pick it, anywhere he goes, he’s really clean there. And he runs. He steals bags. He takes the extra base.
“He is a ball player — there’s no doubt about it.”
Moore finished the season hitting .255/.358/.496 in 38 games — his slugging percentage and OPS (.855) were second on the club only to Austin Nola, who was traded to the Padres at the deadline — with nine doubles, eight home runs, 17 RBI and a team-leading 12 stolen bases.
He made nine appearances at second base in September, which is where he could settle in with the Mariners moving forward, with the Opening Day spot at that position open for competition.
Seattle took an extended look at Shed Long Jr. at that position in 2020, but Servais said in December both Long and Moore will get looks at second base this spring.
“I think that I come in with the mindset of getting ready for the 2021 season,” Moore said of how he is approaching spring camp. “Whether I’m competing for a spot, or I may or may not already have a spot, I want to be able to get back into the swing of things, get to where I’m comfortable offensively and defensively, and get into baseball shape.
” … I look at it as an opportunity for me to get better every day. If I get better every day in these five weeks, and then the season comes around, and I’m getting better every day, I think that I can have a good season.”