Seattle Mariners Rumors

Seattle Mariners trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Bullpen Notes: Cotts, Mujica, Brewers, Papelbon, K-Rod

Recent Brewers signee Neal Cotts tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he came close to hanging up his spikes before the Rangers offered him a deal for the 2013 season. After two fairly productive seasons in Texas, Cotts chose Milwaukee in part due to proximity to his home in Chicago.

Here are some notes on still-active bullpen situations around the game:

  • The Red Sox have indicated a willingness over the last few days to deal righty Edward Mujica, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Mujica, 30, signed a two-year deal to head to Boston last year after a strong 2013 with the Cardinals, but struggled mightily out of the gate. He rebounded with a big second half, however, throwing 25 1/3 innings of 1.78 ERA ball over the second half. All said, Mujica ended the year having allowed 3.90 earned per nine and having compiled a 3.70 FIP that was nearly identical to his fielding-independent mark from the season prior.
  • After adding Cotts, the Brewers will keep looking for a veteran, late-inning arm, potentially one with closing experience, assistant GM Gord Ash tells Haudricourt. The club is “juggling a lot of balls right now,” says Ash, who added that talks with the Phillies on Jonathan Papelbon are not dead even if nothing is imminent. Ash also indicated that the team was considering former closer Francisco Rodriguez, but noted that the club is not in on Rafael Soriano or Joba Chamberlain. Milwaukee also seems to have its eye out for a bargain, with Ash noting that the club is open to doing a minor league deal at any time.
  • A few of the other names still on the market do have some interest even though they have yet to ink a contract, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter links). After a solid 2014, southpaw Joe Beimel has interest from three clubs, including the incumbent Mariners, while fellow lefty Joe Thatcher has drawn attention from a handful of teams.

Quick Hits: Prospects, Viciedo, Cuba, Coffey

It is prospect season yet again, with various evaluators releasing their latest breakdowns of the brightest young players in the game. Baseball AmericaBaseball Prospectus, and Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs are working through the systems on a team-by-team basis for the time being, while MLB.com is going position-by-position at present. ESPN.com’s Keith Law (subscription links) has now filed a new top-100 list as well as organization rankings. Kris Bryant and his club, the Cubs, rank atop Law’s respective boards.

  • The Phillies should take a flier on Dayan Viciedo, argues CSNPhilly.com’s Corey Seidman. While there are some barriers to such a move, and reasons against it, Seidman says that there is enough upside left in the 25-year-old that Philadelphia ought to roll the dice.
  • In another update on Yoan Moncada and the general situation of Cuban ballplayers, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports that the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) does still issue the “specific licenses” that MLB has required Cubans to obtain before they are cleared to sign. Since it appears that such players would already be able to sign pursuant to a “general license” (more on that here), Badler suggests that MLB-related requests may be receiving a lower priority that extends the delay.
  • Free agent reliever Todd Coffey has interest from five or six club and may be nearing a deal, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. The 34-year-old has not seen big league action since 2012, but put up intriguing numbers last year at Triple-A in the Mariners organization.

AL Central Notes: Garcia, Viciedo, Weeks, Ichiro

The White Sox rank at the very top of the list of offseason winners compiled by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. GM Rick Hahn ticked through many of the team’s questions this winter and should have a competitive team to show for it, says Heyman. Of course, despite plenty of praise, there are still some non-believers out there. They can point to this year’s PECOTA projections from Baseball Prospectus, which see Chicago as a 78-win team. Also of note from PECOTA, which is rather down on the division on the whole: the Tigers are tabbed as a .500 club, while the Royals project to win just 72 wins after appearing in the World Series last year.

More from the south side and the AL Central:

  • The White Sox are a much improved team heading into the 2015 season, but much of the optimism surrounding the club relies on the contributions of right fielder Avisail Garcia, writes Fangraphs’ Neil Weinberg. Perception appears to be that Garcia can handily outperform the just-designated Dayan Viciedo, but Weinberg cautions that we shouldn’t readily accept that as fact. Garcia’s stats to date tell a similar tale to that of Viciedo — modest on-base percentage with some power and below-average base-running and defensive skills. While Garcia’s track record is clearly smaller, the two are excellent statistical comps even when looking at their production through the age of 23. Weinberg notes that scouts have long questioned whether or not Garcia would be able to resist bad pitches and make enough contact to succeed, and the assumption that he will outperform Viciedo is based largely on perceived ceiling as opposed to likely outcomes.
  • Newly-designated White Sox slugger Dayan Viciedo should generate plenty of interest, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writes. The American League West offers the best matches, Morosi argues, with the Mariners, Athletics, and Rangers all potentially making sense as landing spots.
  • Despite some apparent suggestions, the Twins are not interested in free agent second baseman Rickie Weeks, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets. That is not terribly surprising, given that the right-handed-hitting Weeks does not play short and would presumably have needed to serve as a backup to two right-handed hitters in Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe.
  • Ichiro Suzuki‘s representatives (who he shares with Twins skipper Paul Molitor) tried to generate interest in the veteran from Minnesota, but the club never saw a fit, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. As Berardino explains, Ichiro and Molitor — both incredible pure hitters — share an interesting relationship.


Mariners To Sign John Baker To Minor League Deal

The Mariners and veteran catcher John Baker have agreed to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter).

The 34-year-old Baker, a client of CAA’s Joe Urbon, spent last season with the Cubs and picked up 208 plate appearances despite struggling tremendously at the plate. Baker batted just .192/.273/.231 with Chicago, continuing a decline from what were a pair of solid offensive seasons in his first two years in the Majors. Baker batted .281/.364/.423 with 14 homers in 656 PAs from 2008-09 — his first two seasons of Major League action. However, since that time, he’s batted .209/.291/.249 without a homer in 572 PAs.

Baker is a career .272/.360/.408 hitter in the minor leagues, though, and his addition was likely made for depth purposes. That said, he’ll surely have a chance to compete with Jesus Sucre and John Hicks to determine who will open the season as the backup to former No. 3 overall pick Mike Zunino.


Mariners Re-Sign Endy Chavez

TODAY: The deal is official. Chavez will earn $750K if he makes the big league roster and also can achieve $450K in plate appearance bonuses, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter.

YESTERDAY: The Mariners have re-signed outfielder Endy Chavez to a minor-league deal with a Spring Training invitation, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes. Previous reports had indicated that a reunion between Chavez and the Mariners was likely. Chavez is represented by the Legacy Agency.

Chavez, who turns 37 early next month, collected 258 plate appearances with the Mariners in 2014, hitting .276/.317/.371 while playing all three outfield positions. The 13-year veteran also appeared with Seattle in 2009 and 2013.


Minor Moves: Franklin Gutierrez

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.

AL Notes: Rays, Gutierrez, Mariners, Butler, Royals

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.

West Notes: Vogelsong, Gutierrez, Doolittle

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.

Mariners Notes: Happ, Rotation, Outfielders, Montero, Beimel

The Mariners held their yearly pre-Spring Training media luncheon yesterday, and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune has some highlights from sessions with manager Lloyd McClendon and GM Jack Zduriencik…

  • There’s been a bit of speculation that left-hander J.A. Happ, acquired from the Blue Jays in the Michael Saunders trade, would pitch out of the bullpen, but McClendon quickly squashed that chatter. “We didn’t acquire Happ to pitch out of the bullpen,” McClendon said. “We can put all of that to rest. He will be pitching in our rotation.”
  • McClendon added that there will be a competition for only one spot in the rotation, though he declined to specify who on the club’s roster will definitively be joining Happ, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma in the rotation. Dutton, however, writes that “all signs point” to James Paxton being guaranteed a spot, meaning that the fifth slot in the rotation will be a battle between Taijuan Walker, Roenis Elias and possibly Erasmo Ramirez.
  • Others could join that competition, as Zduriencik told the media that he’s hopeful of adding another starting pitcher, although further additions would likely come in the form of minor league deals with invitations to Spring Training. The Mariners would like any non-roster invitees to be able to provide depth in the minors, which may be a tough sell, Dutton notes, as veteran starters that will have to settle for minor league deals may prefer to sign with a club that presents a clearer path to a Major League roster spot.
  • The Mariners are likely to sign a veteran outfielder as well, Dutton writes. Zduriencik acknowledged that the team “may do a few little tinkerings” before Spring Training to bring in a veteran player or two that could compete for a job. Seattle has been linked to Endy Chavez on multiple occasions.
  • Seattle is very happy with Jesus Montero‘s offseason conditioning, as the former top prospect has lost roughly 40 pounds and is down to the team’s target weight of 235 pounds. Said Zduriencik of Montero: “He appears to be a guy who, maybe, the lights have gone on for him. He’s going to get a chance in spring training. We’ll see.”
  • Left-hander Joe Beimel is still a “possibility” for the club, Dutton writes. The 37-year-old Beimel (38 in April) posted a 2.20 ERA with 5.0 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 49.6 percent ground-ball rate in 45 innings for Seattle last season. He also held left-handed hitters to a paltry .188/.217/.288 batting line.
  • Dutton also provides updates on a few of the club’s top prospects and injury updates on Elias, Willie Bloomquist, Danny Hultzen and Dustin Ackley in addition to discussing what is likely to be a Spring battle between Brad Miller and Chris Taylor to see who will be the Mariners’ everyday shortstop. The entire roundup is worth a look for Mariners fans.

Minor Moves: O’Malley, Greene, White Sox

Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball, with the newest transactions at the top of the post…

  • The Mariners signed infielder Shawn O’Malley to a minor league deal and invited the 27-year-old to Spring Training, the team announced.  O’Malley made his Major League debut last season, appearing in 11 games with the Angels.  A fifth-round pick by the Rays in the 2006 draft, O’Malley has a .258/.351/.338 slash line over 2985 minor league plate appearances.
  • The Phillies signed shortstop Tyler Greene to a minor league deal, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports (via Twitter).  Greene, drafted 30th overall by the Cardinals in 2005, posted a .645 OPS over 746 PA with the Cards, Astros and White Sox from 2009-13, and he spent last season at the Triple-A level in the Braves’ and Padres’ systems.
  • The White Sox signed right-handers Jairo Asencio and J.D. Martin to minor league deals and invited them to Spring Training, the team announced.  Both righties spent last season pitching in the Korean Baseball Organization.  Asencio posted a 5.34 ERA over 55 2/3 IP with four teams from 2009-13.  Martin, drafted 35th overall by the Indians in the 2001 draft, last pitched in the majors in 2010.
  • The Yankees signed catcher Eddy Rodriguez to a minor league deal, as per the team’s MLB.com transactions page.  Rodriguez has a .235/.286/.386 slash line over 2271 minor league PA, mostly in San Diego’s system, as well as a two-game cup of coffee with the Padres in 2012.