Casey Kotchman refused an outright assignment and is now a free agent, the Mariners announced. The move is essentially an early non-tender. Kotchman had zero trade value and would have been non-tendered in December, so the Mariners are allowing the first baseman to hit the free agent market a month early.
Kotchman, 27, earned $3.5MM last year and even a modest arbitration raise would have guaranteed him an unnecessarily high salary. He batted .217/.280/.336 last year in 457 plate appearances. Kotchman has a reputation as a good defender and he posted an .840 OPS in 2007, but he does not hit enough for a first baseman.