Seattle Mariners Rumors

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Which Rule 5 Picks Are Still With Their New Teams?

There were 13 players selected in the Major League phase of the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, and nearly halfway through the year, a surprising percentage remain with their new clubs. Here’s a look at each of the Rule 5 picks, where they’re currently playing and if they have a chance to remain with their team…

  • Oscar Hernandez, C, Diamondbacks: Selected out of the Rays organization despite never having appeared above Class-A, Hernandez broke his hamate bone in Spring Training and has been on the DL all season.  As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted at the time, that actually made it a bit easier to get some time to evaluate Hernandez, as the D-Backs can see him on a Minor League rehab assignment and don’t have to roster such an inexperienced bat all season. Hernandez is on his rehab assignment now, and the early returns at the plate aren’t good (.200/.259/.280 in nine games). Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s hit poorly, though, so perhaps the team will prefer Hernandez’s big arm for that spot.
  • Mark Canha, 1B/OF, Athletics: Selected by Rockies out of the Marlins organization, Canha was immediately traded to Oakland for right-hander Austin House and cash. Canha hasn’t been great for the A’s, but he’s provided league-average production at the plate to go along with passable corner defense. At this point, it would be a surprise if Canha didn’t finish the season with the team.
  • Delino DeShields, Jr., OF, Rangers: The Rangers plucked the former No. 8 overall pick out of the Astros organization, perhaps hoping that DeShields could be a speedy bench piece. DeShields, like the Rangers club as a whole, has been far better than most expected, hitting .269/.358/.386 and going 13-for-15 in stolen base attempts. A hamstring injury has had him on the DL for much of June, but he’s on a rehab assignment right now and should return to the team in short order. DeShields’ .368 BABIP will likely regress, but he’s been the game’s second most-valuable baserunner, per Fangraphs, despite his limited playing time. He certainly seems likely to remain with the Rangers.
  • Jason Garcia, RHP, Orioles: The Astros were the team to technically select Garcia out of the Red Sox organization, but Houston quickly traded him to Baltimore for cash. Garcia pitched poorly in 13 innings to open the season before landing on the disabled list with a shoulder injury that has since seen him transferred to the 60-day DL.
  • J.R. Graham, RHP, Twins: A former top prospect with the Braves, Graham was selected by the Twins on the heels of an injury-shortened 2014 season. He’s seen a lot of time in mop-up duty, but Graham has delivered a solid ERA, albeit with less encouraging peripherals. In 35 2/3 innings, hs has a 3.03 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 39.1 percent ground-ball rate. The Twins have said they plan to retain Graham, who’s averaging better than 95 mph on his fastball.
  • Jandel Gustave, RHP: Gustave was selected by the Red Sox out of the Astros organization, then traded to the Royals. Kansas City tried to put him through waivers this spring but lost him to the Padres, who ultimately returned him to Houston. He has a 2.54 ERA but a 17-to-13 K/BB ratio in 28 1/3 innings with Houston’s Double-A affiliate.
  • Taylor Featherston, INF, Angels: The Angels acquired Featherston for cash considerations after the Cubs selected him from the Rockies. The Halos seem committed to keeping Featherston, as he’s still on their roster despite just 60 plate appearances this season. The 25-year-old hasn’t hit — .127/.169/.218 — but he’s provided sound defense at three positions late in games and in his rare starts.
  • Odubel Herrera, CF, Phillies: The Phillies nabbed Herrera out of the Rangers’ organization after a strong Double-A showing in 2014, and the infielder-turned-outfielder has seen the bulk of time in center for the Phils. He’s hitting just .251/.282/.359, but the Phillies are the exact kind of team that can afford to give a Rule 5 pick regular at-bats as opposed to costing him valuable reps via limited usage. He’ll remain with the team.
  • Andrew McKirahan, LHP, Braves: The Marlins were the team to select McKirahan, but the Braves claimed him off waivers in Spring Training. McKirahan cracked the Opening Day roster with the Braves, but he pitched just 4 1/3 innings before being suspended 80 games for a positive PED test. The Braves will get a second look at him on a rehab stint in the minors before they have to make a call. He’s eligible to be activated on July 20.
  • Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Mets: The Mets took Gilmartin out of the Twins organization and converted the former first-round pick (Braves, 2011) from a starter into a reliever. The result has been a 1.88 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 3.8 B/9 and a 50 percent ground-ball rate in 24 innings. Curiously, Gilmartin has significant reverse platoon splits in his first taste of big league action.
  • Daniel Winkler, RHP, Braves: Winkler was the Braves’ actual selection out of the Rule 5. Winkler is recovering from 2014 Tommy John surgery and has yet to pitch in 2015 at any level. He’s on Atlanta’s 60-day DL.
  • David Rollins, LHP, Mariners: Seattle took Rollins out of the Astros organization, and the lefty made a strong case in Spring Training to break camp with the team’s bullpen. However, he was suspended 80 games for PED usage and wound up on the restricted list. Rollins is on a rehab assignment now and could still pitch with the Mariners in 2015. Rollins has tossed 7 1/3 innings of scoreless ball in rehab and will have served his suspension after four more games.
  • Logan Verrett, RHP: The only other player to be returned to his team at this point, Verrett was selected by the Orioles out of the Mets organization. Baltimore lost him on waivers to the Rangers, who carried him on the roster briefly before eventually returning him to the Mets. Since being returned, Verrett has debuted with his original organization at the big league level.

Erik Kratz Elects Free Agency

Catcher Erik Kratz has elected free agency after being outrighted off the Red Sox’ 40-man roster, reports  Brian Macpherson of the Providence Journal (on Twitter). Kratz was designated for assignment by the Red Sox late last week once Blake Swihart recovered from a minor injury.

A career .217/.270/.400 hitter, the 35-year-old Kratz has proven himself capable of hitting for power but at the cost of questionable batting average and OBP marks. Defensively, Kratz’s 31 percent caught-stealing rate is above average, and he’s received plus ratings in terms of pitch framing.

Kratz and his agents at Metis Sports Management will now have the opportunity to seek a deal with any club in need of depth and/or immediate help behind the plate. The Mariners, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter), are one team that could be a possible landing spot.


AL West Notes: Hamilton, Kazmir, A’s, Ichiro

Josh Hamilton could return from the DL as early as Monday, and he could be coming back to the Rangers as a center fielder.  As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes, Hamilton played center in each of his last two minor league rehab games and he could displace the struggling Leonys Martin from the starting CF job.  Hamilton has only played 13 games in center since the start of the 2013 season, and while his advanced defensive metrics have varied from year to year, Hamilton has below-average numbers (-8.4 UZR/150 and -16 defensive runs saved) over his career as a center fielder.  Here’s more from around the AL West…

  • Several clubs have been scouting Athletics pitcher Scott Kazmir recently but, for his part, the veteran doesn’t want to leave Oakland, as John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group writes.  “I would love to stay here. This is a group of guys I love being around. When you go up and down the team, the organizational staff, there’s a lot to like. I’d like to stay here,” Kazmir said.  Hickey notes that scouts from the Astros and Blue Jays were on hand Saturday as the 31-year-old pitched against the Royals.
  • Also from Hickey, he questions why the A’s have kept Max Muncy on the MLB roster when there’s no obvious route for him to find any playing time, a situation that doesn’t help the team or the player.  Muncy has only played in two of Oakland’s last 11 games, and Hickey wonders if this rustiness might’ve contributed to a key throwing error Muncy made during today’s 5-3 loss to the Royals.
  • Could the Mariners look to reunite with Ichiro SuzukiGeoff Baker of the Seattle Times opines that Ichiro could be a good fit for the team, as he would add some defensive help to the outfield and also add a contact bat with a bit of on-base ability to the struggling M’s lineup.  Baker doesn’t suggest the club should give up anything too valuable for Ichiro, as the Mariners are already on the fringes of the playoff race.


Minor Moves: Gutierrez, Volstad, Wang

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.

Mariners Release Rickie Weeks

The Mariners have released Rickie Weeks, according to the MLB.com transactions page.  Weeks was designated for assignment by Seattle last week.

Weeks, 32, signed a one-year, $2MM contract with the Mariners in the offseason as the club was looking to use him as Robinson Cano‘s backup as well as in a utility role around the diamond.  As it turned out, Weeks never played anywhere besides left field and DH over his 37 games with the team, and he contributed very little at the plate, hitting .167/.263/.250 with two homers in 95 plate appearances.

Once one of the game’s better-hitting second basemen in his prime with the Brewers, Weeks has hit only .228/.323/.389 over the last four seasons.  He did deliver an .809 OPS over 286 PA in a part-time role with Milwaukee in 2014, though that production was certainly aided by a .355 BABIP.  Always a dangerous hitter against left-handed pitching over his career, Weeks hit only .234/.308/.383 in 52 PA against southpaws this season, and contributed just a .290 OPS in 43 PA against righties.

The Mariners are responsible for the approximately $1.1MM remaining on Weeks’ deal, minus the pro-rated MLB minimum salary he might earn over the rest of the season if he signs with another team.  Weeks’ track record will probably earn him some looks from other clubs, not to mention the belief that his bat could pick up away from Safeco Field.  While neither sample size is large enough to be definitively, Weeks managed only a .278 OPS in 41 home plate appearances this season, as opposed to a .690 OPS in 54 PA.


Draft Signings: Hale, Red Sox, Cleavinger

Here are some of the latest notable signings from the amateur draft.  All slot value information is courtesy of Baseball America…

  • Mariners ninth-rounder Conner Hale has announced he has signed with the club via his Twitter page.  The M’s have their other nine picks from the first 10 rounds of the draft already signed at a total cost of just over $4.113MM according to MLB.com’s draft bonus tracker.  This leaves $73.8K remaining in their draft bonus pool (which was slightly less than $4.187MM) and Hale’s 275th overall draft placement carries a slot value of $158.3K.  Since he’s a senior, it’s perhaps unlikely he signed for full slot, giving Seattle a bit of breathing room should they spend extra on any of their post-10th round draftees.
  • The Red Sox announced the signings of Ben Taylor (7th round), Tucker Tubbs (9th) and Mitchell Gunsolus (10th) last week, and according to the MLB.com bonus tracker, all three college seniors signed for well below their assigned slot values.  Taylor signed for $10K despite a $212.5K slot value for the 201st overall pick, Tubbs for $5K ($163.5K as 261st overall) and Gunsolus for $10K ($152.7K as 291st overall).
  • This combined $503.7K in savings helped the Red Sox ink eighth-rounder Logan Allen, whose signing was officially announced today by the club.  Allen said last week that he had verbally agreed to a bonus worth over four times more than his $175.1K slot value as the 231st overall pick, and MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports that Allen received $725K.
  • The Red Sox also announced the signings of three other draft picks today, including outfielders Tate Matheny (4th round) and Jagger Rusconi (5th).  Callis reports that Rusconi signed for a full-slot value of $384K.  It isn’t yet known what Matheny (son of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny) signed for, though his draft placement carries a $512.7K slot value.
  • The Orioles announced that they have signed third-round pick Garrett Cleavinger.  MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports that Cleavinger will receive a $500K bonus, less than the $559.3K slot value assigned to the 102nd overall pick.  The Oregon left-hander was ranked as the No. 185 prospect in the country by Baseball America prior to the draft.  If Cleavinger continues to strike out batters as he has in college, BA says that he might need much minor league time.
  • The O’s also confirmed the signing of seventh-rounder Gray Fenter, and surely Cleavinger’s below-slot deal helped Baltimore to sign Fenter to an above-slot $1MM deal while remaining within the limits of its bonus pool.

AL Notes: Martinez, Luhnow, Chen, Schafer

The Mariners have named former franchise star Edgar Martinez their new hitting coach, writes Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Martinez will replace Howard Johnson who has been reassigned elsewhere in the organization. Seattle’s offense has struggled despite the notable additions of Nelson Cruz over the offseason and Mark Trumbo earlier this month. The team has the lowest batting average in the league. Only the Phillies, Brewers, and White Sox are worse by on base percentage. The Mariners will hope Martinez can teach some of the skills that helped him to a .312/.418/.515 line over 7,213 plate appearances.

  • While Astros GM Jeff Luhnow claims to be on good terms with his former St. Louis co-workers, a top player agent tells MLBTR’s Zach Links that it’s not entirely true (via Twitter). No elaboration was provided, but Links did mention (tweet) that the agent called Luhnow “very smart.” While it may seem like little more than gossip, there could be an undercurrent of motive if Luhnow had made some enemies in his former organization.
  • Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen was understandably unhappy about being optioned to Class-A despite good numbers. However, he isn’t worried about the incident affecting his relationship with the Orioles, reports Steve Melewski of MASN.com. Baltimore’s decision to option Chen will have no obvious financial implications for the lefty since he’ll return to the rotation next week. The club was simply looking to activate Chris Parmelee, and Chen had options.
  • The Twins released Jordan Schafer on Thursday in part because he would have declined an attempt to reassign him to the minors, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN. As a player with more than five years of service time, Schafer could refuse reassignment without forfeiting pay. Wolfson adds that Schafer is healthy.

Draft Signings: Thompson, Jones, Cabbage

We’ll track some of the day’s notable draft bonus agreements here. (Slot values via Baseball America; signing links to Twitter.)

  • Another player whose signing was reported yesterday, Dylan Thompson of the Mariners, agreed to an above-slot deal, per Callis. A high school righty, Thompson will receive a $585K bonus after being taken 125th overall ($448K slot value).

Earlier Updates

  • 70th overall pick Jahmai Jones receives a $1.1MM bonus from the Angels, MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports. We covered his agreement to an above-slot bonus last night, and it turns out that Los Angeles had to add $220K to the pick’s allocated value to keep Jones from attending UNC.
  • The Twins have likewise agreed to an above-slot bonus with fourth-round (110th overall) selection Trey Cabbage, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. It remains unreported just how far over the $517,900 pick allocation Minnesota went to lure Cabbage away from his commitment to the University of Tennessee. The third baseman rated as high as the 72nd-best player in the draft, per MLB.com, which noted his plus hit tool and promise at the hot corner.

Draft Signings: Staumont, Finley, Jones, Kramer, Perkins

Here are the day’s significant draft signings of less than $1MM, with slot values via Baseball America. All signing links to Twitter.

  • Royals second-rounder Josh Staumont will receive the 64th selection’s full $964,600 slot value, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com reports. The MLB.com prospect team was highest among evaluators on Staumont, listing the collegiate righty as the 65th-best player available and crediting his top-of-class arm strength. Though he has issues with hitting the zone, Staumont has flashed enough easy velocity and promise with his secondary offerings to have a lofty ceiling.
  • The Yankees will pay third-round choice Drew Finley an above-slot $950K bonus, Mayo reports. That’s $323,400 above the 92nd pick’s alloted pool space. ESPN.com’s Keith Law likes Finley quite a bit, explaining that the prep righty combines the projection and control to profile as a future starter. New York also agreed to an at-slot $456,800 payday for fourth-round choice Jeff Hendrix, also via Mayo.
  • The Angels have agreed to an above-slot bonus for second-rounder Jahmai Jones, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. The precise bonus value remains unreported, but Jones was taken with the 70th pick in the draft, which had a $880K allocation. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs listed the high schooler as the 50th player on his board, crediting his advanced bat and solid power. The question is whether Jones can play an up-the-middle position defensively, but McDaniel says there is enough of a track record to suggest he can. Los Angeles has also agreed to a slot-value, $548,600 bonus for third-rounder Grayson Long, according to Mike DiGiovanna of MLB.com.
  • Pirates second-rounder Kevin Kramer will take home a $850K bonus, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com. The team will save $144,800 against the pool space afforded by the 62nd overall selection. Law had the highest rating on the UCLA shorstop among pundits, calling him the 71st-best prospect and praising his overall skillset (while noting long-term questions about Kramer’s ability to stick at short and general lack of impact tools).
  • The Nationals have reached agreement with high school outfielder Blake Perkins, who May says took home a $800K bonus, $93,100 under his slot value at 69th overall. Bryan Webb tweeted this morning that a deal was done. Only Law placed Perkins within his top-100 draft prospects, with Baseball America explaining that he has five-tool potential but has plenty of development ahead of him. Fourth-rounder Mariano Rivera Jr. has agreed to a slot-value ($410,700) bonus, also per Mayo. (You might remember his father, who had a lengthy MLB career for some good clubs.)
  • The Diamondbacks announced a host of signings, including third-rounder Taylor Clarke, fourth-round pick Breckin Williams, and fifth-rounder Ryan Burr. The 76th choice was valued at $801,900, while the 106th pick came with a $538,200 allotment, though bonuses remain unreported. Per BA, Clarke’s future may depend upon his ability to harness his change-up, as the collegiate senior has a useful fastball and well-commanded slider. bArizona will pay Burr the slot value of $403K, Mayo adds.
  • Likewise, the Mariners say they’ve formally signed a number of players to undisclosed bonuses, among them third-rounder Braden Bishop ($607,700 slot value) and fourth-round choice Dylan Thompson ($448K slot value). Bishop, a University of Washington outfielder, drew the 81st position on the MLB.com pre-draft list, which cited his big speed.
  • The Marlins went well above slot to nab eight-round choice Chris Paddack, with Callis reporting that he’ll get an even $400K. The 236th slot in the draft was worth just $173,100.
  • Athletics fourth-round pick Skye Bolt lands a $650K bonus, per Callis. That’s a nice bump up over the 128th choice’s $453,300 allotted value. MLB.com had the highest grade on the UNC outfielder, rating him 67th overall based upon Bolt’s four plus tools. The question is with the bat, which the switch-hitter has failed to show over the last two seasons.

Kevin Gregg Opts Out From Mariners Contract

Veteran righty Kevin Gregg has opted out of his minor league deal with the Mariners, Triple-A Tacoma announcer Mike Curto reports. Gregg signed with Seattle a few weeks back.

The 36-year-old started the year with the Reds, but was released after struggling to a 10.13 ERA in 10 2/3 innings. Gregg did show an ability to miss bats in that stint, racking up 14 strikeouts (against five walks). Gregg put up better results at Tacoma, putting up 9 1/3 innings of 2.89 ERA ball with an 8-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio.