Mariners let catcher lead off for first time in 34 years

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Catcher John Jaso is hitting leadoff for the Mariners against the Tigers and Drew Smyly on Wednesday. It’s the first time since 1978 that a Mariners backstop has found himself atop the order.

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times points out that Bob Stinson was the only previous catcher to lead off for the Mariners, doing so twice in 1978.

Jaso has a fair amount of experience leading off, having hit there in 51 games with the Rays. He batted .262/.360/.393 with 33 runs scored in 191 at-bats, which is really pretty good.

However, the odd thing is that the Mariners have him leading off against a lefty tonight. Jaso, a left-handed hitter, has rarely started versus southpaws in his career. He has a .183/.320/.268 line in 82 lifetime at-bats against left-handers.

Of course, the alternative option is probably Chone Figgins, so what’s the harm?

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.