PEORIA, Ariz. — Monday’s roster moves left the Seattle Mariners with, effectively, just two openings on their 25-man roster, which doesn’t have to be set until Sunday morning: backup catcher and a fifth right-handed reliever.
Steve Clevenger appears to be the choice over Rob Brantly for duty as Chris Iannetta’s backup. Both players are out of options, which means the Mariners are likely to try to sneak one of them through waivers.
“Is (Clevenger) a little bit ahead?” Servais said. “He’s been here all camp. We have a better feel for him. Still, we like what Rob Brantly has shown us.”
The Mariners are still likely to acquire a right-handed reliever prior to the season and talked extensively to San Diego about Nick Vincent, Kevin Quackenbush and Jon Edwards.
Tellingly, perhaps, the Padres have a Rule 5 pick from the Mariners in outfielder Jabari Blash. Rule 5 selections, if they clear waivers, must be offered back to their former club for $25,000 before they can be sent to the minors.
If a trade fails to materialize, Donn Roach looms as a heavy favorite for the job. Through Monday, he had not allowed a run in 121/3 innings over his last five appearances.
“Obviously, Donn Roach has been the surprise of camp,” Servais said. “He’s thrown the ball very well. As you know, at the end of spring training, there are a lot of transactions, a lot of movement amongst clubs.
“We could have some additions yet to come in. I don’t know.”
With Charlie Furbush still sidelined, Vidal Nuno is Servais’ preferred choice for left-on-left match-ups in late-game situations — a loogy in the baseball vernacular (left-handed one-out guy).
“He has a track record of getting the lefties out,” Servais said. “I trust him. He can throw any pitch in any count. His left-on-left breaking ball, I can see why it works for him.”
Left-handers batted just .215 last season against Nuno with a .258 on-base percentage and a .304 slugging percentage. His career slash numbers are .200/.268/.315.
Dominican shortstop Carlos Vargas, the club’s prize 2015 international signing, is expected to begin his pro career this season on the organization’s primary team in the Dominican Summer League.
Vargas turned 17 on March 18 and received $1.625 million of the Mariners’ allotted $2,150,300 bonus pool for last year’s international signings, according to Baseball America.
That ranked as the 14th-richest bonus given last year to an international player. The richest was $6 million shelled out by San Francisco to Bahamian shortstop Lucius Fox. That is highest international bonus in history for a non-Cuban player.
Baseball America’s scouting report said Vargas “doesn’t have the prettiest swing, but he has performed well in games, hitting and hitting with power.
“He’s still growing into his 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame, with broad shoulders and strong wrists that help him generate quick bat speed and flash above-average raw power,” according to Baseball America.
The Mariners’ other 2015 international signings included: Dominican right-handed pitcher Ivan Fortunato (17, $150,000), Venezuelan third baseman Nolan Perez (16, $130,000), Dominican catcher Daniel Santos (17, $100,000) and Dominican right-hander Feliberto Bonilla (17, $40,000).
All four are expected to start their pro careers on the Mariners’ second team in the Dominican Summer League. The 2016 international signing period starts on July 2.