The Mariners signed Darren Ford, a center fielder from the Giants organization, to a minor league contract. Ford has almost no offensive skills, but he walks and steals bases. But where he has a lot of value is on defense.
Last year, Ford had seven balls hit in his zone according to UZR, and fielded all of them. He also made four plays outside of his zone. He did that in only 43.2 innings. For some perspective, Michael Saunders made 24 plays outside of his zone in 376.1 innings. Obviously the sample sizes are too small to make significant inferences, but Darren Ford can obviously field.
So if the Mariners don’t think that Franklin Gutierrez, Michael Saunders, or Trayvon Robinson will be able to improve offensively, they may become redundant pieces.