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Franklin Gutierrez Rumors
Here were the day’s notable minor moves:
- The Mariners have selected the contract of former core player Franklin Gutierrez, the team announced. Fresh off a huge 2009 campaign, the outfielder signed a four-year, $20.5MM extension with Seattle. But a variety of ailments derailed his career and he provided the club with just 3.6 rWAR over the life of that deal. Gutierrez sat out the 2014 season while dealing with gastrointestinal issues, and came back on a minor league deal. Over 209 plate appearances at Triple-A this year, the 32-year-old has slashed a promising.317/.402/.500 with seven home runs and two steals.
- Another player looking for a comeback is Pirates righty Chris Volstad, who also received a call-up today per a club announcement. The towering, 28-year-old righty has not seen substantial big league time since 2012. He’s been solid in 76 Triple-A frames, putting up a 3.43 ERA with 5.9 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9.
- Shortly after being released by the Braves, veteran righty Chien-Ming Wang has signed with the independent league’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, the club confirmed to Mike Ashmore of MyCentralJersey.com (on Twitter). The 35-year-old owns a career 4.37 ERA over 792 1/3 big league innings, though he hasn’t reached the majors since 2013. He scuffled to a 6.10 ERA in 62 frames at the Triple-A level this year.
The Mariners have made a host of moves involving veteran non-roster invitees, per a team announcement. Seattle has released outfielders Endy Chavez and Franklin Gutierrez along with lefty Joe Saunders, with the latter two players re-signing on new minor league deals.
Chavez, 37, exercised an opt-out clause in his deal to reach the open market. He has spent the last two seasons with the Mariners, combining for 537 plate appearances with a .271/.303/.347 slash.
The 32-year-old Gutierrez, meanwhile, sat out all of 2014 and has seen only five plate appearances in Cactus LeagueÂ action this spring. He has been a productive player at times, though certainly will need to prove his health and productivity if he is to re-establish himself in the big leagues.
Meanwhile, Saunders will figure to provide a depth option for the Mariners’ pitching staff. The lefty has had difficult results in each of the last two seasons, but has a long track record of durability.
We’ll keep tabs on the day’s minor moves here:
- The Mariners have brought back outfielder Franklin Gutierrez on a minor league pact, the club announced. He will receive an invite to major league camp. Gutierrez inked a big league deal with the Mariners last offseason but was placed on the restricted list when he informed the club that he would sit out the season due to gastrointestinal issues. In his most recent action, back in 2013, Gutierrez slashed .248/.273/.503 and hit ten home runs over just 141 plate appearances.
The Rays have dramatically improved their farm system since last summer, but they’ve had to do it by trading top talent, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune writes. Steven Souza, who Baseball America deems the system’s best prospect, arrived in the Wil Myers trade, with No. 2 prospect Daniel Robertson joining the system via the Ben Zobrist deal and No. 3 prospect Willy Adames arriving in the David Price trade. The Rays have gotten little talent in the draft lately, so their best young players have come from elsewhere. Souza, Robertson and Adames aren’t the only key prospects in their system they’ve gotten in trades — there’s also Hak-Ju Lee (from the Matt Garza deal), Boog Powell (from the Zobrist trade), Andrew Velazquez and Justin Williams (from the Jeremy Hellickson trade) and Jake Bauers and Burch Smith (from the Myers deal). “It was no secret that our minor league system didn’t have the talent that it has had in past years,” says Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman. “A number of players have graduated from our system and are on our major league club or have been part of trades that we made, and that left somewhat of a void that we needed to fill during these transactions.” Here’s more from the American League.
- The Mariners have already bolstered their outfield depth by adding Endy Chavez on a minor-league deal, and they also appear likely to add Franklin Gutierrez, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Gutierrez, who appeared in 41 games with Seattle in 2013, missed last season due to gastrointestinal issues. Mariners sources indicate that he would have to begin the year in Triple-A if he were to sign with the team.
- Dutton also notes the Mariners appear likely to head to an arbitration hearing with reliever Tom Wilhelmsen. Wilhelmsen has proposed a 2015 salary of $2.2MM, while the Mariners have countered at $1.4MM, and Dutton writes that the Mariners do not want to keep negotiating. After posting a 2.27 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 79 1/3 strong innings in 2014, Wilhelmsen is eligible for the arbitration for the first time.
- Billy Butler signed a three-year deal with the Athletics earlier this offseason, but he wouldn’t mind returning to the Royals later in his career, Tod Palmer of the Kansas City Star writes. “It’s disappointing, but you understand that the game’s a business and I didn’t leave on bad terms,” Butler said. “I’d be more than happy to come back. That’s home for me. I’ll always be forever tied to the Royals organization and the community there.” For now, though, Butler is happy to be with the A’s, who he says told him he was their top priority this offseason.
The Astros nearly signed Ryan Vogelsong, but after Vogelsong took his physical with the Astros, he went another direction and re-signed with the Giants. Vogelsong later said he “really wasn’t comfortable with what was going on” with the Astros, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle notes. Vogelsong’s agent, Dave Meier, later said Vogelsong simply meant he wasn’t comfortable with the fact that negotiations were falling apart. Vogelsong also later added that his wife wanted to stay in San Francisco. As Drellich notes, though, Vogelsong’s phrasing was odd, and it’s unclear exactly why the two parties weren’t able to agree on a deal. “[E]verything that’s happened to me this offseason — and one of these days I’ll tell you guys all about it, when we’re all sitting around having a couple beers 10 years from now when I’m done playing — and you’ll go, ‘There’s no way that happened,’ and I’ll say ‘Yup,’ and you’ll understand what I’m talking about,” Vogelsong says. Here’s more from the West divisions.
- The Mariners could still re-sign outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to a minor-league deal, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. “He wants to give it a shot,” says assistant general manager Jeff Kingston. “Full disclosure, there are some veteran non-roster players we’re still talking to, and we probably will add a few more here before the start of camp.” The 31-year-old Gutierrez hit .248/.273/.503 in 2013, hitting a remarkable ten home runs in 151 plate appearances, but he missed the 2014 season with gastrointestinal issues.
- Athletics closer Sean Doolittle has a slight rotator cuff tear in his throwing shoulder, MLB.com’s Jane Lee notes. He is not expected to be ready to pitch to start the season (Twitter links). Doolittle dominated for the A’s in 2014, posting a 2.73 ERA with a ridiculous 12.8 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9 in 62 2/3 innings. The newly acquired Tyler Clippard, who had 32 saves with the Nationals in 2012, could perhaps get save opportunities for however long Doolittle is out.
The latest edition of the MLBTR Podcast focuses on the Padres‘ busy offseason, as Jeff Todd speaks with MLB.com’s Padres beat writer Corey Brock about all of San Diego’s transactions. Jeff also spends a few minutes on how the five NL West teams’ winter moves have created a varied set of expectations around the division. Here’s the latest from around the baseball world…
- The Angels weren’t eager to part with Ricardo Sanchez, but GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters (including MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez) that the club’s young pitching depth made it easier to deal Sanchez to the Braves for third baseman Kyle Kubitza and reliever Nate Hyatt. “What we’ve done, in our draft or in the trades the way we’ve gathered players, is really focus these last three years on adding pitching,” Dipoto said. “Part of what I have talked to our guys about is, ‘If you tap into the pitching, you have the key to get the other things we need.’ “
- Dipoto also reiterated that Kubitza’s acquisition doesn’t necessarily spell the end of David Freese (a free agent next winter) in Anaheim. “David Freese is our third baseman; we’re not in a rush to move David Freese out. But we do feel like now we have someone we can build with,” Dipoto said.
- The Angels aren’t seriously exploring adding a notable starting pitcher since they expect Garrett Richards to be ready by “some point” in April, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets.
- Also from Morosi, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said that his team is “always open” to the possibility of more moves, including another trade for a hitter.
- Endy Chavez or Franklin Gutierrez could potentially fit as candidates to return to the Mariners as minor league outfield depth, MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes as part of a reader mailbag.
- Rockies GM Jeff Bridich recently confirmed that he’d taken some calls about Drew Stubbs, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes. “In general, there has been interest in Drew from teams looking for very specific fits in their outfield,” Bridich said. “Teams see him as a fit, but he’s a fit for us as well.” While Bridich didn’t give the impression that any trade was close or even being discussed, it was reported last month that the Rockies had spoken to the Orioles about a possible Stubbs deal.
- The Mets expect interest in their starting pitching to perk up, a team source tells Mike Puma of the New York Post, with Dillon Gee the likeliest candidate to be dealt. Without a trade, the Mets are prepared to use one of their starters out of the bullpen, as the source says a six-man rotation is “unlikely.”
- Also from Puma, Mets GM Sandy Alderson didn’t sound optimistic about his team’s chances of a shortstop upgrade. “We’ve continued to have conversations, but nothing is likely to occur,” Alderson said. “There is currently nothing imminent. I still believe at this point that we will go into spring training with what we have at shortstop.” The Mets never came close to a deal for Troy Tulowitzki, Puma writes, though they talked with Colorado during the Winter Meetings.
The Angels have at least a little interest in Red Sox infielder Brock Holt, Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston tweets. After non-tendering Gordon Beckham, the Angels are on the lookout for a backup infielder, and GM Jerry Dipoto has said that a trade for one is a possibility. Holt would be a good get for the Angels — he hit a solid .281/.331/.381 last season while playing seven positions. Here’s more from the American League.
- Rays GM Matt Silverman told reporters, including Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune (via Twitter), that clubs are calling about outfielders. Now that some of the notable free agents have signed, demand has increased.
- The Rays are in active search mode for a second catcher, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. According to Silverman, the club is active on both the free agent and trade front. They’re remaining open-minded about both veterans and youngsters. Tampa currently has Ryan Hanigan, Curt Casali, and Justin O’Conner on the 40-man roster.
- The Mariners are keeping their eyes on former outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who they could bring back on a minor-league deal, MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes. Gutierrez spent the 2014 season on the restricted list while dealing with a nerve condition, but he’s currently playing winter ball in Venezuela. “I have not talked to him myself,” says GM Jack Zduriencik. “I plan to, but I’ve not done that yet. He missed a whole year, so we’ll see. I don’t know where he is physically or mentally.” Gutierrez’s exceptional defense once made him very valuable, but the 31-year-old struggled with injuries even before the 2014 season.
The Mariners have placed outfielder Franklin Gutierrez on the restricted list after he advised the team that he will not play in 2014, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune (Twitter links). The move clears a 40-man roster spot for Fernando Rodney.
Gutierrez has had a relapse of the gastrointestinal issues that plagued him last year, and says he intends to focus on regaining his health. Soon to turn 31, Gutierrez managed only 141 plate appearances last year, over which he posted a .248/.273/.503 line with ten home runs. He had inked a one-year, $1MM deal with Seattle that included an additional $2MM in incentives.
With an outfield featuring several left-handed bats, Gutierrez had figured to provide an important platoon option from the right side of the plate. His loss could add even greater impetus to Seattle's rumored interest in Nelson Cruz. Of course, the greater issue might be the loss of Gutierrez as an option to share time in center alongside Dustin Ackley or Michael Saunders. While switch-hitter Abraham Almonte had a solid all-around season last year in the upper minors, he is unproven and has generally put up better numbers when hitting from the left side in his recent minor league campaigns. That being said, the list of remaining free agents does not appear to house any obvious solutions.
A look at the AL and NL West..
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) that he's in on two of Masahiro Tanaka, Ervin Santana, and Matt Garza.
- The Mariners are showing continued interest in Santana, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
- Franklin Gutierrez says that he had other offers, including one from the Indians, but "didn't think twice" about other opportunities when the Mariners called him, tweets Greg Johns of MLB.com.
- Even after adding Joaquin Benoit, free agent pitcher Josh Johnson, and trading for outfielder Seth Smith, the Padres might not be finished, writes Corey Brock of MLB.com.
- Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com wonders if the Dodgers can bank on second baseman Alexander Guerrero. Los Angeles signed the Cuban standout this winter to a four-year, $28MM deal that can increase to $32MM with incentives.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels says that not much has changed since the winter meetings, writes Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com.
4:31pm: The Mariners confirmed the deal via press release.
8:57am: The Mariners and Franklin Gutierrez are in agreement on a one-year, $1MM contract, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes (Twitter links). The Octagon client can earn an additional $2MM via incentives, according to Rojas, who adds that Gutierrez's incentives begin when he reaches 250 plate appearances That milestone would net him an additional $200K.
Gutierrez posted a .248/.273/.503 in 141 plate appearances in 2013 — his age-30 season. A pair of hamstring injuries shelved Gutierrez for the majority of the season, marking the third straight year in which injuries have caused him to spend more than 60 games on the disabled list. Since Opening Day 2011, Gutierrez has appeared in 173 games but missed 283 games while on the disabled list.
When healthy, it's tough to deny his upside, however. 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. Following his injuries, the Mariners made the obvious call to decline the $7.5MM fifth-year option on that contract in favor of a $500K buyout.
Gutierrez will join an outfield mix that currently includes Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders and recent signee Corey Hart, though Seattle has other options on the 40-man roster such as Abraham Almonte, Xavier Avery and Carlos Peguero. The team has also been linked to both Nelson Cruz and Shin-Soo Choo as GM Jack Zduriencik looks to bolster a perennially low-scoring offense.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports first reported last night that the Mariners and Gutierrez were nearing a new contract.