The Mariners announced a number of off-roster Spring Training invitees this afternoon. Among those in camp are helpers Taylor Williams and catcher Brian O’Keefemeaning both have signed minor league deals to return to the organization.
Williams has 97 MLB appearances to his credit, spread across four clubs. The right-hander broke into the big leagues with Milwaukee and ended up with Seattle for the 2020 season. He hit 19 in 13 2/3 innings through the first month plus the shortened season. After Seattle was knocked out of the playoffs, they brought him to the Padres in a deal that brought in the prospect at the time Matt Brash. It was a coup for Seattle, as Brash quickly became a highly regarded talent and now appears to be a key figure in Seattle’s evolving relief corps.
San Diego only had five games from Williams as he lost most of the 2021 season battling a knee injury. He was waived by the brothers in September 2021, and he had brief stints in the Marlins and Giants organizations before returning to the Mariners via a minor league deal last summer. The 31-year-old posted a 1.14 ERA over 23 2/3 innings for Triple-A Tacoma and collected grounders with an incredible 60% clip. Because the Mariners were overloaded with bullpen depth, he never got an MLB look, but still impressed the front office enough to get another crack that spring.
Seattle still has an excellent auxiliary corps. The off-season trade of Eric Swanson in which Teoscar Hernandez Deal pulled one player out of the mix, but Seattle added the out of options Trevor God on a free agent contract. He joins Paul Seiwald, Andres Munoz, Diego Castillo, Penn Murfee and Brash as virtual castles for the season-opening squad. Matt Festa has run out of options himself and is likely to crack the roster while one of Marco Gonzales or Chris Flexen could take a long relief role given Seattle’s depth of rotation if it doesn’t trade before opening day. The M’s also have off-season trade acquisition Justin Topa and caught Taylor Saucedo Waivers from the Mets today.
That’s a deep collection of guns, meaning Williams and other non-Cadre invitees like Casey Sadler, Nick Margevicius, Ryder Ryan and Riley O’Brien could have an uphill battle for the squad. Most of this group will likely start the season with the Rainiers. Williams is out of options himself. So if at any point he cracks the MLB roster, he would have to stay with the majors or be made available to other clubs through trades or waivers.
O’Keefe is a 29-year-old backstop who played in two games for the M’s last year. He had one hit and one walk in his first four MLB record appearances. The right swinging catcher had a decent .253/.330/.449 line with 13 homers over 352 trips to court with Tacoma last year. He joins Jacob Nottingham as a non-roster catcher with prior big league experience. Seattle has CalRaleigh and Tom Murphy as their catching duo, but no added depth for the 40-man at the moment.