Mariners enter camp with plenty of newcomers

Mariners enter camp with plenty of newcomers

SEATTLE -- In Part II of our Spring Training preview series, we take a look at the new guys in camp this year. And for the Mariners, that is a very lengthy list. New general manager Jerry Dipoto wasted no time turning over Seattle's 40-man roster with 11 trades and five Major League free-agent signings, as well as a number of non-roster invitations.

Players themselves are joking that they'll need to wear nametags this spring when introductions are first made, and new manager Scott Servais says he'll host chalk talk sessions every morning that will be used both to help players understand what is expected of them and to let them communicate and get to know each other better.

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Here are the 17 newcomers on Seattle's 40-man roster who will report to Peoria, Ariz., later this month:


RHP Jonathan Aro: The 25-year-old Dominican came to Seattle as part of the Wade Miley-Carson Smith trade with the Red Sox and will be given a shot at earning a bullpen spot. Aro is something of a late bloomer, having not started pro ball until age 20 due to dealing with dengue fever as a youngster. He was pitching in Class A ball in 2014, but quickly advanced from Double-A to Triple-A and then a late-season stint with the Red Sox last year and could be an interesting reliever to watch in camp.

RHP Joaquin Benoit: Benoit has been one of the most dependable setup men in baseball over the past decade and proved he can be a capable closer as well when given that shot with the Tigers in 2013 and Padres for part of '14. Dipoto traded Minor Leaguers Enyel De Los Santos and Nelson Ward to the Padres for Benoit and his $8 million salary and envisions the 38-year-old in a key setup role if things go as planned. The Mariners would love to see Benoit maintain the level of excellence he showed the past five seasons in Tampa Bay, Detroit and San Diego (2.35 ERA, 0.939 WHIP, 422 strikeouts in 379 innings).

Benoit K's Bourjos to escape jam

RHP Steve Cishek: Benoit will be able to stay in the setup role if Cishek succeeds in the closer's role he's been promised after signing a two-year free-agent deal. The 29-year-old sidewinder saved 88 games with a 2.72 ERA for the Marlins from 2012-14 and was one of the National League's more dependable closers. But he struggled with his control last season, lost his ninth-inning job and eventually was traded to the Cardinals in midseason.

Cishek ready to return to closer role

RHP Ryan Cook: The 28-year-old right-hander was an outstanding workhorse in the A's bullpen from 2012-14 when he put up a 2.60 ERA and a 1.101 WHIP with 17 saves in 196 appearances and earned an American League All-Star berth in 2012. But he struggled badly last year and spent most of the season in Triple-A for the A's and Red Sox, getting roughed up for an 18.69 ERA with four home runs in nine Major League outings. If he returns to form, Cook could be a boost to Seattle's bullpen after agreeing to a $1.1 million deal in free agency.

RHP Justin De Fratus: Another bounceback bullpen candidate, the 28-year-old right-hander had a very strong 2014 for the Phillies (2.39 ERA with 1.082 WHIP in 52 2/3 innings), but a lousy '15 (5.51 ERA and 1.550 WHIP in 80 innings). The Mariners feel he could regain his form if he's not overextended. A 3.08 ERA in his first four years in Philly certainly look intriguing for a guy that cost only $750,000 in free agency.

RHP Nathan Karns: Acquired from the Rays in a six-player deal in November, Karns appears headed for a heated competition with James Paxton for the fifth-starter spot. The 28-year-old Texan broke into Tampa Bay's rotation for the first time last year and went 7-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) with 145 strikeouts in 147 innings. The Mariners have five years of control before Karns hits free agency, so he could factor in the long-term plans as well.

Karns' one-run outing

RHP Cody Martin: The 26-year-old will try to follow Tyler Olson's path as a former Gonzaga University pitcher trying to impress with a big Spring Training. Dipoto claimed Martin off waivers from the A's in October, and he'll likely provide Triple-A rotation depth after spending much of his Minor League career with the Braves and A's as a starter. But Martin did pitch 21 games in relief for the Braves last year (with a 5.40 ERA) and then started two late-season games for Oakland after being acquired in a July trade.

LHP Wade Miley: The lefty from Louisiana was acquired by trade from the Red Sox during the Winter Meetings in a move that cost the Mariners promising young reliever Carson Smith. But Dipoto values Miley's durability, as he's thrown more than 193 innings in four straight seasons, and feels the 29-year-old southpaw will be a good fit in Safeco Field after previously pitching in hitter-friendly ballparks in Arizona and Boston. Miley was an NL All-Star for the D-backs in 2012 and owns a career record of 49-46 with a 3.95 ERA. He should help solidify Seattle's rotation behind Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma.

Miley finishes complete game

RHP Evan Scribner: The 30-year-old had a very unusual 2015 season for the A's as he struck out 64 batters with just four walks, but surrendered 14 homers in 60 innings. Scribner posted a 2.01 ERA in his first 27 games, but struggled in the second half and wound up with a 4.35 ERA for the year, before going on the DL for the final month with a torn lat muscle. Dipoto loves the strike-throwing ability and acquired the five-year veteran for Minor League pitcher Trey Cochran-Gill.

RHP Joe Wieland: The 26-year-old right-hander has dealt with injuries much of his career, undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012 and sitting out all of '13. He went 10-5 with a 4.59 ERA as a starter for Triple-A Oklahoma City last year and also made two starts for the Dodgers (0-1, 8.31 ERA). Dipoto acquired him for Minor League infielder Erick Mejia in order to bolster the rotation depth at Tacoma and add a promising arm for the future.

Position players

C Chris Iannetta: One of Dipoto's first priorities was to add a veteran catcher in order to allow Mike Zunino to develop in the Minors, and he signed Iannetta -- who played for him in Anaheim the previous four seasons -- to a two-year, $8.5 million deal in free agency. Iannetta struggled at the plate last season (.188 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs in 272 at-bats), but he is a career .231 hitter with a strong .351 on-base percentage, and the Mariners expect him to handle the majority of work behind the plate this year.

Iannetta excited to flip sides in AL West

C Steve Clevenger: Acquired by trade from the Orioles for Mark Trumbo, Clevenger provides catching depth and a left-handed-hitting partner for Iannetta. The 29-year-old hit .287 with two homers and 15 RBIs in 101 at-bats for Baltimore last year. He can also play first base if needed, but the Mariners will likely use him strictly behind the plate.

1B Adam Lind: The 10-year veteran was acquired from Milwaukee for three Minor League pitchers to give Seattle a quality left-handed bat and veteran presence to hit behind Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager in the order. Lind batted .277/.360/.460 with 20 homers and 87 RBIs in 149 games for the Brewers last year after spending his first nine seasons with Toronto. Dipoto loves the .364 on-base percentage Lind has posted over the past three years, though his career OPS of .863 vs. right-handers compared with .586 vs. lefties means he'll be used primarily in a platoon situation.

Lind's two-run homer

INF Luis Sardinas: A well-regarded prospect in the Rangers' system several years ago, Sardinas is still just 22 and will compete with Chris Taylor for a backup infield spot after being acquired from the Brewers for Minor League outfielder Ramon Flores. The speedy switch-hitter batted .261 in 43 games for Texas in 2014 and .282 with 16 stolen bases in 103 games for Triple-A Colorado Springs last year, but he hit just .196 in 36 games for Milwaukee.

OF Nori Aoki: Look for Aoki to make his mark at the top of the order, as Dipoto loves the 34-year-old's bat control and ability to work pitchers. In four seasons with the Brewers, Royals and Giants, Aoki has put up a .287/.353/.386 line with 81 stolen bases. He's the rare player with more walks (171) than strikeouts (169) and will add speed and athleticism to Seattle's outfield, with the expectation he'll play left field on most days and fill in at center field as needed.

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OF Leonys Martin: Another piece of what is expected to be a much more athletic outfield, Martin is an excellent defender with a strong arm who will patrol center field and hit somewhere in the bottom of the order. The Cuban native was acquired by trade from Texas, where he lost his starting job last year after hitting just .219 in 288 at-bats. But Martin batted .268 with 67 stolen bases as the Rangers' starter in center from 2013-14 and is just hitting his prime at 27.

OF Boog Powell: The 23-year-old California native was part of a six-player deal Dipoto struck with the Rays in November and will likely open the season in Triple-A Tacoma. But he's another athletic outfielder with a history of getting on base (.401 OBP in four Minor League seasons with the A's and Rays), and Powell is a potential center field and leadoff candidate in future years for the Mariners.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.