SEATTLE (AP) — Jack Zduriencik does not see the Seattle Mariners making another splash signing before the start of spring training after an offseason of big moves highlighted by the signing of second baseman Robinson Cano.
What he would like to acquire is another veteran pitcher to add to a starting rotation that has a pair of aces at the top and then a handful of promising prospects behind them without much major league experience.
“I don’t suspect we’ll make a major move but we hopefully will do a couple of things that will be tweaks that help the club certainly for this year,” Zduriencik said Thursday.
How the rotation gets filled out will be one of the major questions when Seattle reports for spring training in the middle of February. Pitchers and catchers will be on the field Feb. 13 and the first full squad workout is Feb. 18.
Seattle has the top of its rotation settled with former AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwkuama forming a formidable combo. But the bridge between that pair and some of the youngsters Seattle would like to see take the final spots in the rotation is the question.
Asked if he was comfortable with how his rotation sits, Zduriencik said, “not tremendously.”
“I think there is certainly potential there. There are some things that have to come together. When you’re placing a lot of faith and trust in young kids that have very short windows of success, that’s risky,” Zduriencik said. “I will say that they’re talented but how quickly they become legitimate major leaguers, is yet to be seen. There may be opportunities for us in the next period of time, few days or so, maybe we’ll be able to add something to it.”
Manager Lloyd McClendon said he would be disappointed if top prospect Taijuan Walker didn’t make the rotation out of spring training, but he’s expected to contend with James Paxton, Erasmo Ramirez and Brandon Maurer for one of those final spots.
There is not a higher-regarded prospect in the Mariners system than Walker. He was described by Zduriencik as the best athlete in the entire organization and he called his brief call-up at the end of last season “short and impressive.”
Walker made three starts for Seattle last season, going 1-0 with a 3.40 ERA. He struck out 12 batters in 15 innings pitched in his major league debut.
“He’s young, he’s talented, he’s got a ton of ability. He has to acclimate himself to being a big league starting pitcher,” Zduriencik said. “How quickly that comes, I don’t know. Everybody is different.”
Aside from the rotation, Seattle also has significant questions about how its outfield will shake out, specifically center field. The Mariners are hopeful that newly acquired outfielders Logan Morrison and Corey Hart are healthy enough to be regulars at the corner outfield spots. That leaves center field jumbled with Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders and Franklin Gutierrez as options.
“As we roll into spring training it’s all up to them,” Zduriencik said. “I can’t tell you who the center fielder is going to be. I can tell you who the candidates are. I can’t tell you who the left fielder is going to be. I can tell you who the candidates are. … If we’re going to be a really good ball club, let’s see what happens in spring training. It’s up to them.”
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