Endy Chavez has worked out wonderfully for the Mariners as emergency outfield insurance. In fact, he’s worked out almost too wonderfully.

It’s been only six games, but it’s tough not to notice Chavez with that spanking .353 OBP sitting atop a lineup that once again is woefully underachieving in that category. For those who keep asking why the Mariners insist on batting Chavez leadoff, there’s your answer.

But here’s the problem.

In another week and a half, Michael Saunders will be eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list and the Mariners will have to find room on the roster for him. The logical step would be to send Chavez back to Class AAA, but that won’t be so simple. Chavez is a 35-year-old veteran long out of minor league options and would have to be outrighted to AAA, which means any team could put a claim in on him.

The way Chavez has produced offensively and played defensively, there’s a good chance that could happen.

And if the Mariners lose Chavez to a waiver claim, they would be flying without a safety net for the rest of the season should Saunders get hurt again. We already saw last season with Mike Carp that a sprained AC joint in the shoulder can be a year-long hassle for a player and there’s no guarantee Saunders won’t be feeling his injury from time to time as the season progresses.

Now, the Mariners could solve that problem by simply keeping Chavez on the team. But that creates a whole new problem.

The biggest one is, the Mariners are already stretching the rest of their roster pretty thin by carrying five outfielders. Keeping Chavez would leave them with six outfielders on the 25-man squad and that’s simply poor roster management.