Coming into Spring Training, the Seattle Mariners’ lineup is pretty well set in stone. Each position has their declared starter, and for the most part the backups have their spots nailed down too. The one spot left undecided however is the Mariners backup infielder spot.
Jesus Montero is likely to make it as Adam Lind‘s platoon at first, Steve Clevenger will back up Chris Iannetta and Franklin Gutierrez will serve as the 4th outfielder. The extra infielder job though is still up for grabs.
As of right now, there are four possible options vying for the spot. They are veteran journeymen Ed Lucas and Shawn O’Malley, and youngsters Chris Taylor and Luis Sardinas. O’Malley played with the Mariners last year, while Taylor has been up and down the last couple years. Lucas has bounced around the minors for over a decade, appearing in 163 MLB games with the Miami Marlins between 2013 and 2014. The final option is the youngster Sardinas who was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers this past winter in exchange for Ramon Flores.
All four of the options have their own individual advantages. For Ed Lucas, he is a seasoned veteran who’s been around the block and can also play every position, while Taylor and Sardinas are purely infielders. The only positions he hasn’t played over his career are center field and catcher.
Like Lucas, O’Malley is very versatile and has played everywhere besides shortstop and catcher. On top of that, he played fairly well for the M’s last year and is familiar with Jerry Dipoto from their days in Anaheim.
Chris Taylor may have the highest potential of the four options and has also shown he’s able to hit in the bigs. The issue that comes with him is his defense is often suspect and after a good rookie year in 2014, he fell off considerably in 2015.
The final candidate — and right now the best one — is Sardinas. He is the youngest of the four players, and is likely to be the most comfortable playing both second base, shortstop and third base. On top of that, he is probably the best with the glove and runs well too. While it’s still early in Spring Training, Sardinas has started hot with four hits in seven at-bats and four RBIs.
Obviously it’s only four games into the spring, but Sardinas appears to be the early front-runner. His youth, combined with his comfortability at the necessary positions, and the hot start to the spring has Sardinas in a very good spot. As long as he can continue to maintain a solid hitting pace throughout the rest of the month, he should find himself in Seattle to open the season.