Seattle Mariners Rumors

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

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.



Mariners Agree To Over-Slot Deal With Nick Neidert

The Mariners and second-round pick Nick Neidert have agreed to an over-slot bonus of $1.2MM, reports MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter). Per Baseball America, the slot value of Neidert’s No. 60 overall selection was $1.026MM.

A high school right-hander out of Georgia, Neidert was the 48th-best prospect in this year’s draft in the estimation of ESPN’s Keith Law. Baseball America ranked him 55th overall, and both Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs and MLB.com’s duo of Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo ranked Neidert 80th among draft prospects.

As Callis notes in his tweet, Neidert’s fastball has been clocked as high as 96 mph, and he has an advanced changeup for his age. Though BA is optimistic with its overall ranking, their scouting report notes questions pertaining to Neidert’s size (6’1″, 185 pounds). BA does praises Neidert’s ability to fill the strike zone but cautions against his current lack of an out pitch. Both BA and MLB.com note that he’d be better served to throw a slider than a curve due to his arm slot. McDaniel feels that Neidert could eventually end up with a 60-grade fastball and a 55 changeup in addition to a 50 breaking ball (grades on the 20-80 scale), which one would think to be enough for him to stick in the rotation. ESPN does add that some scouts view Neidert as a future reliever, primarily due to questions about his size and durability.

The Mariners likely aren’t overly concerned about Neidert’s ability to stick in a rotation, given the over-slot agreement and the fact that the team used its first pick in this year’s draft on him. Seattle’s first-round pick was forfeited in the offseason when the team signed Nelson Cruz, who had rejected a qualifying offer from the Orioles. It shouldn’t be too difficult for the Mariners to find the necessary savings to accommodate Neidert’s bonus, as his deal is not significantly over slot. In fact, the team already saved about $52K on No. 72 overall selection Andrew Moore, who agreed to an $800K bonus last week.


Mariners Outright Justin Ruggiano

JUNE 13: Ruggiano has cleared waivers, and the Mariners have outrighted him to Triple-A Tacoma, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets.

JUNE 4: The Mariners have designated outfielder Justin Ruggiano for assignment in order to clear a 25-man roster spot for backup catcher Jesus Sucre, the team announced (relayed by 710 ESPN’s Shannon Drayer, on Twitter). Seattle needed to clear a spot on the roster for a catcher after trading Welington Castillo to the Diamondbacks yesterday in the six-player Mark Trumbo trade.

The decision to designate Ruggiano is a somewhat curious one, as the veteran outfielder was acquired from the Cubs this offseason with the hope that he could form one half of a right field platoon along with Seth Smith. Ruggiano’s overall numbers don’t look particularly appealing, but he’s hit left-handed pitching well in 2015, as he has throughout his career. In 43 plate appearances versus lefties this season, Ruggiano is hitting .263/.349/.474 with a pair of homers. That slash line gels with his career marks — a .266/.331/.505 line against southpaws.

Though Ruggiano has not hit especially well as a whole this season, his .214/.321/.357 has been roughly league-average production when accounting for his pitcher-friendly home ballpark (99 wRC+, 97 OPS+). Teammates Rickie Weeks and Dustin Ackley, however, have been markedly worse performers at the dish, with Weeks hitting just .169/.273/.260 and Ackley hitting a mere .190/.231/.331. In terms of defensive value, Ruggiano is better suited to play the outfield than Weeks, who is still learning the position.

Ruggiano is earning $2.505MM this season after avoiding arbitration this winter. He’s under control through the 2016 season and will be arb-eligible once more this offseason if he accumulates a full year of service time in 2015. I’d imagine that Ruggiano could generate some interest in trades, particularly if the Mariners are willing to absorb some of the remaining salary. From a speculative standpoint, the Reds could be a fit, as they are on the lookout for corner outfield options after seeing Marlon Byrd go down with a fractured wrist earlier in the week.


Mariners Designate Rickie Weeks For Assignment

The Mariners have designated Rickie Weeks for assignment, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. The move clears space for the Mariners to recall reliever Danny Farquhar, who will provide help for a Mariners bullpen that had to pitch 7 2/3 innings in a blowout against the Astros yesterday.

The Mariners signed Weeks to a one-year, $2MM deal in the offseason, and he was a disappointment, hitting .167/.263/.250 with just three recorded line drives (according to Fangraphs’ batted-ball data) in 95 plate appearances with the club. The 32-year-old Weeks had rebounded from a poor 2013 season to have a quality 2014 in a part-time role in his final season in Milwaukee, but that success obviously didn’t continue this year as a right-handed bench bat with the Mariners. Weeks also struggled defensively at second base in his last few seasons with the Brewers, and the Mariners used him exclusively in left field, where his bat played even worse than it would have at second. The result was that Weeks posted -0.7 fWAR in his brief time in Seattle.

Weeks isn’t far removed from some effective seasons with the Brewers, and he’s a career .260/.382/.445 hitter against lefties, so he’ll probably eventually make it back to the big leagues. His salary will likely be an obstacle to any team claiming him right now, however.


Heyman’s Latest: Twins, Mariners, Draft, Viciedo

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports’ latest column contains notes on every team throughout baseball. Here are a few highlights.

  • The Twins are surprise contenders this year, and they’re open to acquiring a middle-of-the-order hitter, possibly an outfielder, Heyman writes. They could also seek relief help.
  • After trading for Mark Trumbo, the Mariners seem to lack budget flexibility, which might be the reason they weren’t a serious contender for Rafael Soriano despite Fernando Rodney‘s poor performance this season.
  • The Astros are expected to sign No. 37 overall pick Daz Cameron for about $4MM, Heyman notes. Cameron, who is committed to Florida State, fell in the draft due to signability concerns.
  • The Marlins are close to signing first baseman Josh Naylor, the No. 12 overall pick in the draft.
  • The Dodgers might have a tough time signing No. 35 overall pick Kyle Funkhouser. The righty could head back to Louisville for his senior season, much as Mark Appel spurned the Pirates a few years back so he could complete his degree at Stanford and re-enter the draft the following year.
  • Free agent and former White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo has received offers for minor-league deals, but he’s holding out for a big-league contract, Heyman reports.
  • MLB might think about moving the draft from Secaucus, New Jersey to a different location, perhaps Omaha. That would allow more top prospects to attend.

Cubs Sign Rafael Soriano

FRIDAY: Soriano’s deal does, in fact, include an opt-out clause that allows him to become a free agent if he’s not in the Majors by the All-Star Game in mid-July, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes.

TUESDAY: The Cubs have signed veteran reliever Rafael Soriano to a minor league deal, adding another option to the team’s late-inning mix. He’ll earn the pro-rated portion of a $4.1MM base salary and can add up to $4MM in incentives (based upon games finished and appearances).

MLB: Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins

It rates as a surprise that Soriano signed a minors pact, of course. After all, he landed at 37th on the top-fifty free agent list of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes, who explained that Soriano was still a plenty capable reliever last year. Now, he becomes the final name on that list to sign.

On the other hand, as I wrote back in October, the righty faced plenty of competition in his segment of the market. And while technically a minor-league arrangement, his new pact comes with expectations of a relatively quick call-up as well as a significant salary upon his addition to the MLB roster. Early and frequent opt-out clauses would also seem likely, though they remain unreported.

Soriano’s new deal comes not long after he changed representation. Still on the market with two months of the season in the books, Soriano switched from the Boras Corporation to Octagon Baseball. He indicated then that he hoped to sign in fairly short order, and he had been set to hold a showcase later this week.

Of course, it remains to be seen what Soriano has left in the tank. He faded down the stretch last year after a nice start, ending up with a 3.19 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 over 62 innings. All said, Soriano has produced solid (but not spectacular) results over the last two years despite a loss of fastball velocity.

Looking further back, the former All-Star has been fairly consistent in terms of his end-of-year production, if not his game-to-game results. Going back to the 2006 campaign, Soriano has thrown at least 60 frames seven times and only once ended a year with an earned run average higher than last year’s final mark. While his save tallies may have boosted his prominence beyond his true talent, Soriano has been one of the more reliably useful pen arms in the game for some time.

Chicago currently sits at 20th in the league in terms of reliever ERA, and its late-inning options (such as Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, and Jason Motte) have been short of dominant. With Neil Ramirez still working back from injury, it is easy to see the need for another quality arm.

By adding Soriano now, the Cubs will gain some time to assess their pen in advance of the trade deadline. It remains possible that the club will be in the market for higher-end relief talent, though the return of Ramirez will hopefully deliver additional punch from the right side.

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that a deal was close. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweeted that the deal was done. James Wagner of the Washington Post tweeted the contract details.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Draft Signings: Koch, Allen, Moore, Rainey

The 2015 MLB Draft is in the books, and over the coming weeks we’ll see plenty of picks agree to terms with their new clubs. With so many players selected in the draft, there’s no way to cover all of them, but we’ll run down some of the more notable picks — either due to the size of their signing bonus, the round they were selected or a significantly over-slot/under-slot deal — as they’re reported. Here are today’s notable mid-round signings (with all slot values coming courtesy of Baseball America)…

  • Righty Brandon Koch has signed with the Rays, the club announced. Financial terms remain unreported. The Dallas Baptist product was taken with the club’s fourth round pick (118th overall), which carries a $479,200 slot value. Baseball America was most bullish on Koch, rating him the 94th available prospect, crediting the collegiate closer with an outstanding slider.
  • Red Sox eighth-rounder Logan Allen says that he is in verbal agreement with the club on an above-slot deal between $725K and $750K, Andrew Pearson of the Citizen-Times reports. The 231st pick came with just a $175,100 bonus allocation. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs had the IMG Academy southpaw, who was a South Carolina commit, rated as the 100th-best draft-eligible player coming in.
  • The Mariners have signed Competitive Balance Round B pick (No. 72 overall) Andrew Moore to an $800K bonus that is $52K under slot, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). Baseball America ranked the Oregon State right-hander 125th among draft prospects, while MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo ranked him 137th, and Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel ranked him 130th. BA notes that Moore has an 87-91mph fastball with the potential for a pair of average secondary offerings (curve and change) in addition to plus command. MLB.com notes that he could be quick to the big leagues and has fourth or fifth starter upside.
  • Cotillo tweeted last night that the Reds had agreed to terms with right-hander Tanner Rainey, and Callis tweeted today that Rainey received $432,950, or half the value of his No. 71 overall slot. Though he received half his slot, Rainey is still an expensive senior sign with a chance to start, Callis notes. ESPN’s Keith Law ranked Rainey 58th, while BA had him at 93, McDaniel had him at 118 and MLB.com had him at 122. ESPN referred to Rainey as a pure reliever who works in the mid-90s with an above-average slider to complement the heater. He’s a two-way player who has an intriguing bat but received more interest as a pitcher.

Mariners Have Shown Interest In Ben Revere

3:29pm: Asked whether he had in fact sought Paxton or Walker from the Mariners in exchange for Revere, Amaro told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (in no uncertain terms) that he had not.

“Typically we would not comment on rumors,” said Amaro. But when they reach this level of ridiculousness, I can say unequivocally that what has been written is false.”

1:35pm: Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that the Mariners did indeed contact the Phillies regarding Revere, but talks quickly halted due to the unreasonable asking price of James Paxton or Taijuan Walker.

This early in the trade season, it makes sense for Amaro and other sellers to aim high when discussing players they’re not under any pressure to trade. However, a pitcher of Paxton or Walker’s caliber is clearly far too steep a price for Seattle. Dutton notes that the Mariners’ interest could pick back up if the Phillies lower their asking price, and I’d expect that to happen over the coming weeks.

8:39am: Though they’ve already made what they hope will be an upgrade to their offense by acquiring Mark Trumbo from the Diamondbacks, the Mariners also scouted Ben Revere during the Phillies’ recent series with the Reds, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Seattle is “still monitoring the market for hitters” even after the Trumbo trade, per Salisbury (mention of Revere is near the end of the linked piece).

Revere has been displaced in left field by Cody Asche, who has transitioned to the position after moving off of third base to accommodate Maikel Franco. In center field, the Phillies have continued to utilize Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera despite lackluster offense and somewhat below-average defense. While Herrera’s struggles — he’s hitting .255/.286/.370 and has been worth -1.5 runs per UZR — could have been enough to cost him a spot on a contending club, the rebuilding Phillies can afford to keep him on the 25-man roster to keep him in the organization. It’s also understandable, then, if the Phillies prefer to continue giving him at-bats as opposed to stashing him on the bench and costing him reps at the plate and in the field that could be beneficial down the line.

Right field hasn’t been the Phillies’ most productive position, with veterans Jeff Francoeur and the recently released Grady Sizemore seeing most of the action there this season. But, Revere’s sub-par throwing arm makes left field a better fit than right field, and there’s still the potential that Domonic Brown could receive another look.

Revere himself acknowledged recently that he might be squeezed out of a spot with the Phillies, telling Salisbury late last month: “This is a business. When [Cody] Asche and [Domonic Brown] come back we’re going to have a lot of outfielders and someone might be out. I just have to prepare to help my team win whether it’s here or somewhere else. Just bust my tail and try to stay in the lineup.”

Of course, Revere hasn’t hit as well in 2015 as he did in his first two years with the Phillies, perhaps making him a tougher sell to teams looking at his bat. After hitting .306/.329/.358 in 2013-14 with Philadelphia, he’s batting just .270/.312/.352 in 2015. He remains a plus on the basepaths, but with 12 steals, Revere is not on pace to match 2014’s total of 49 steals. There are other ways to add value on the bases, to be sure, but Fangraphs valued Revere at +10.8 runs on the bases in 2014, compared to just +0.9 in 2015. At the very least, Revere is hitting quite well in June, though 10 days of improved offensive performance likely has little impact on his overall trade value.

Then again, Revere’s cumulative production to this point would represent an upgrade over what Seattle has received from its left fielders, who have combined to bat .199/.283/.328 this year. More troubling is the fact that said batting line includes 60 strong plate appearances from Seth Smith while serving as a left fielder. Regular left fielder Dustin Ackley is hitting just .198/.257/.328, and projected platoon-mate Rickie Weeks has batted just .163/.264/.250 in addition to turning in poor defense. It’s possible that Revere could form somewhat of an unconventional platoon with Smith, supplanting both Ackley and Weeks in left field. Though both Revere and Smith hit left-handed, Revere has handled left-handed pitching better than right-handed pitching throughout his career (.685 OPS vs. .655 OPS).

The 27-year-old Revere, who led the NL with 184 hits in 2014, is earning $4.1MM in 2015 after avoiding arbitration for the second time this past offseason. As a Super Two player, he’ll be arb-eligible twice more before becoming eligible for free agency following the 2017 season.