Happy New Year! Six Weeks To Spring Training!

January 3, 2019

Hey everyone, we’re back! Welcome to 2019. I hope it’s worthy of all of these exclamation points. And I hope you all had a great holiday season.

Baseball starts soon: spring training is just six weeks away. The Mariners official games begin early this year because of a Japan trip, which means that spring training for major leaguers ends early. Keep that in mind if you are planning a trip to Arizona – I’m still trying to figure out the best time to go in order to see Rainiers players in action.

The Mariners made a big addition today, adding left-handed starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi from the Seibu Lions. He’s been one of the top starters in Japan, and the Mariners out-bid several MLB teams to get him.

It’s a three, or four, or seven-year contract for Kikuchi, which has some interesting aspects in regards to what happens after the third year (see link No. 2 below). This signing indicates that the Mariners really do think that their teardown-and-rebuild will be a brief one, lasting three or fewer years. Otherwise, why sign a player like this?

It’s definitely a positive signing. Fans will have someone interesting to watch this season. Hopefully he’ll be really good.

With spring training coming soon, we’ll start our annual look at positional battles to make the Rainiers roster later this month. That will carry us deep into spring training, when we’ll begin to get a feel for who is going to be on the Tacoma roster in April.

In the meantime, we have a number of links from the last two weeks.


  • Here’s the Seattle Times story on the signing of Yusei Kikuchi. Larry Stone has a column on what it means. ESPN’s Keith Law writes that the deal gives the Mariners “credibility” during the rebuild.
  • Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs has a look at the details of Kikuchi’s contract.
  • The Mariners made a trade with the Brewers right before the holiday break (and literally just a few minutes after I last posted here), sending outfielder Ben Gamel and Class-A pitcher Noah Zavolas to Milwaukee for outfielder Domingo Santana. This is an upside play, as the M’s are hoping Santana can return to his 2017 form when he hit 30 homers. Here’s the story from the Times, and a quick analysis from Baseball America. USS Mariner likes the trade in a thorough write-up.
  • Rainiers outfielder Ian Miller made SportsCenter with this highlight-reel catch in the Mexican League (h/t Lookout Landing).
  • 2018 Tacoma Rainiers reliever Ryan Cook has decided to take his talents to Japan, signing with the Yomiuri Giants. We wish him a healthy and successful season.
  • Another reliever from last year, Justin Grimm has signed with the Cleveland Indians.
  • Mariners broadcaster Rick Rizzs quietly does great things every holiday season.
  • After knocking on wood, crossing itself, throwing salt over the left (or is it the right?) shoulder, carefully not stepping on any cracks, and definitely not talking about a no-hitter in progress, The News Tribune boldy proclaimed that Mitch Haniger is the new face of the Mariners. Commence trade rumors in 3, 2, 1…
  • National baseball writer and friend of the blog Jonah Keri tackled the Mariners rebuilding effort.
  • Former Tacoma Rainiers and Seattle Mariners coach Scott Brosius took a whopper of a new job: head of player personnel for USA Baseball. He’ll help coach and set rosters for the various Team USA’s that compete internationally, including the 2020 Olympics.
  • Former Rainiers player Matt Tuiasosopo has a new job: he’s managing the Atlanta Braves Class-A affiliate.