The Mariners are close to re-signing Franklin Gutierrez to a one-year deal, sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports 1 (on Twitter). The Mariners need a right-handed outfield bat and have been encouraged by recent reports on Gutierrez's health, motivating them to facilitate a return, Morosi tweets.
Gutierrez, 31 in February, has a .256/.306/.391 career batting line but has a strong defensive reputation and a career .818 OPS against lefties. He became a free agent on November 1st when the Mariners turned down his $7.5MM club option and gave him his $500K buyout instead.
The veteran inked a four-year, $20.5MM extension with the Mariners after an outstanding 2009 season in which he batted .283/.339/.425 with 18 homers, 16 stolen bases and turned in the best center field defense in the game, all totaling a stellar 6.0 WAR. Unfortunately for both parties, several DL stints over the life of that contract kept him from living up to that deal. Gutierrez has battled hamstring, pectoral, and oblique issues and also dealt with a serious concussion.