Seattle Mariners Rumors

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Mariners Release Erik Kratz After He Opts Out Of Deal

TODAY: Kratz opted out of his deal when he learned he would not receive a promotion, per a tweet from his representatives at J.M.G. Baseball.

YESTERDAY: The Mariners have released catcher Erik Kratz, according to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (via Twitter). Kratz had been playing at Triple-A since being released by the Royals and signing a minor league deal with Seattle.

Given this morning’s report that the Mariners were nearing a deal to acquire a backstop, it would appear that this move is designed to allow current backup Jesus Sucre to return to Tacoma. It remains unclear whether a deal will get done, but the release of Kratz certainly lines up with that outcome. Nevertheless, Divish notes on Twitter that his sources tell him there are no trade talks that can be characterized as being “close.”

Kratz, 35, owns a .211/.276/.400 slash over 105 Triple-A plate appearances on the season. He also briefly appeared at the major league level with Kansas City. Over parts of six seasons in the big leagues, beginning in 2010 when he was already thirty years of age, Kratz has put up a .217/.270/.400 slash with 23 home runs in 537 turns at bat.

Latest On Mariners Pursuit Of Catcher

1:51pm: Despite moving to release Triple-A backstop Erik Kratz, the Mariners are not “close” to a deal to add a new catcher, multiple sources tell Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). He does add that Seattle has been looking for a new reserve behind the dish, though it has found the prices unreasonable.

12:23pm: While the Braves have had talks with Seattle regarding A.J. Pierzynski, he is not the backstop who is close to being acquired by the Mariners, Morosi tweets.

12:09pm: The Blue Jays are not involved, says Shi Davidi of (on Twitter). Toronto backstop Dioner Navarro has long looked like a strong trade candidate, but it appears he isn’t the player being pursued by Seattle.

9:54am: The Mariners are close to striking a deal for a backstop, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. The report does not give any indication of the identities of the player or the other team involved in talks.

Seattle, of course, has already traded for a catcher this year, acquiring Welington Castillo from the Cubs. But Castillo has since been shipped to the Diamondbacks as part of the Mark Trumbo deal.

Mike Zunino, who is only 24, still looks like he could be a long-term piece for Seattle. But his struggles have become rather pronounced: his batting line sits at .160/.223/.292 after 277 plate appearances on the year. While Zunino is well regarded as a pitch framer, and Defensive Runs Saved is a fan (+7) of his work behind the dish. But Baseball Prospectus does not rate him highly in its measure of Fielding Runs Above Average.

The addition of Castillo seemed like an effort to supplement Zunino, and it appears that the Mariners are about to undertake another such attempt. Of course, it is entirely unclear at this point what kind of addition is under contemplation. MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently provided a complete breakdown of this year’s trade market at the position.

Mariners, Red Sox Interested In Jason Frasor

8:05pm: The Red Sox, too, are interested in Frasor, a source tells’s John Tomase. The Sox are currently sorting through options to improve a bullpen that has lacked reliable options behind Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa, Tomase notes, and Frasor is among the considerations.

5:08pm: The Mariners are “taking a hard look” at right-hander Jason Frasor, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Frasor became a free agent earlier this week after he was designated for assignment by the Royals and opted for free agency.

As Dutton writes, manager Lloyd McClendon recently expressed displeasure with the performance of his team’s right-handed relievers. McClendon noted that much attention is paid to the club’s anemic offense, but the team had offensive struggles in 2014 as well. A lack of quality right-handed relief options, in McClendon’s estimation, has been a significant detriment to the team’s success. “In my opinion, the biggest disappointment to date has been the right-handers we’ve had to shift in and out of our bullpen to try to bridge the gap,” said McClendon.

Seattle has indeed seen its shares of struggles in the bullpen. Danny Farquhar, Tom Wilhelmsen, Yoervis Medina and Dominic Leone were standout performers in 2014, but neither has performed well in 2015. The 28-year-old Farquhar’s velocity and strikeout rates have plummeted, while his walk and home run rates have both soared. The result has been a 6.23 ERA — more than three full runs higher than his 2.66 mark from 2015. Wilhelmsen’s ERA has more than doubled, though it’s at least worth noting that his strikeout and walk rates have improved; he, however, has been plagued by a BABIP north of .400 and a fluky strand rate. Medina and Leone have both been traded this season after their own struggles. None of the four is presently in the Major Leagues.

Also of note regarding the Mariners’ bullpen struggles is the collapse of 2014 closer Fernando Rodney. The veteran has long had control issues, but in his best years they’ve been masked somewhat by a hefty strikeout rate. That hasn’t been the case for Rodney this season, as he’s posted a dreadful 5.50 ERA with just 7.0 K/9 against 4.3 BB/9. The 38-year-old has also been more homer-prone than usual.

Overall, the Mariners have received a collective 3.81 ERA from their bullpen, which ranks just 22nd in the Majors. Sabermetrics don’t paint any rosier of a picture, as FIP (3.81), xFIP (3.85) and SIERA (3.54) all feel that the production has been mediocre, at best, relative to the rest of the bullpens in the league. Rookie Carson Smith, journeyman Mark Lowe and lefties Joe Beimel and Charlie Furbush, however, have delivered strong to excellent bottom-line results.

Of course, Frasor would hardly represent a guaranteed cure for the Mariners’ bullpen troubles. Although the 37-year-old worked to an excellent 1.54 ERA in 23 1/3 innings with the Royals, he also issued 15 walks (13 unintentional) in that time and posted the lowest K/9 rate (6.9) of his career. Additionally, given his track record, one would imagine that there will be a number of clubs to show interest in the veteran right-hander, whose brush with midseason free agency seems unlikely to be lengthy in nature.

Cafardo On Mariners, Pirates, Zobrist

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looked at five teams that need to make a move before the trade deadline.  That list includes the Mets, who have pitching they can trade for hitting.  The most obvious fit for them would be Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, but Cafardo also mentions teammate Carlos Gonzalez as well as A’s hitters Josh Reddick and Steven Vogt.  As always, Cafardo’s entire column is worth a read, but we also compiled a handful of highlights below..

  • The Mariners continue to consider Phillies outfielder Ben Revere as the deadline approaches, Cafardo hears from a major league source.  The M’s need a leadoff hitter and while his slash of .294/.335/.377 doesn’t make him the ideal guy for that, Revere does have 21 steals on the year.  Earlier today we learned that the Pirates also have their eye on Revere.  However, it’s worth noting that Revere is also dealing with hamstring issues at the moment and that could delay a possible trade.
  • The Pirates recently watched Marlins right-hander Dan Haren pitch at Fenway Park.  Haren has been mentioned quite a bit as a trade candidate and while he made demands in the offseason, he has now settled into the fact that he might get moved.
  • Speaking of the Marlins, former closer Steve Cishek is drawing interest despite his difficult season and mechanical issues. The Twins, Tigers, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and other clubs have been keeping an eye on the 29-year-old.
  • Now that Marlins first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse is healthy once again, Cafardo wonders if teams like the Mets, Pirates, Nationals, and Royals could come calling.  A team acquiring Morse would have to pay the rest of his $7.5MM salary for 2015 and his $8.5MM salary next season, but Cafardo hears that he is in fact being scouted by clubs. Recently, MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth ran down the Marlins’ possible trade chips, including Haren and Cishek.
  • The Mets, Yankees, Giants, and Nationals are among the teams with interest in A’s outfielder/infielder Ben Zobrist.  Zobrist has played in left field, second base, and right field this season and Cafardo notes that he could also play third base if needed, despite having only four career games there.
  • One AL exec tells Cafardo that he thinks the Tigers could listen on David Price.  “It bears watching,” said the executive. “I don’t think he’s going back there. The Tigers need to revamp their farm system, so it’s not cut and dried that they won’t entertain a package for him.” Cafardo, however, doesn’t see Price going anywhere.  He envisions Detroit possibly adding a starter.

Minor MLB Transactions: 7/11/15

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Mariners have signed Chien-Ming Wang to a minor league deal, reports Greg Johns of The 35-year-old made 10 starts and 11 appearances for the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate earlier this season. He posted a 6.10 ERA with 4.06 K/9 and 3.05 BB/9 in 62 innings. More recently, he appeared in the independent Atlantic League where he made one successful 8.2  inning start. Of course, Wang is best known for his work with the Yankees from 2005 through 2008. His best seasons were 2006 and 2007. He posted 19 wins in both seasons. Wang has a career 4.37 ERA with 4.13 K/9, 2.66 BB/9, and a 59.1% GB% at the major league level.
  • The Mets have signed former outfield prospect Joe Benson, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. Benson, 27, was released by the Braves in mid-June after hitting .246/.346/.331 at the Triple-A level. He briefly appeared for the Twins in 2011. He slashed .239/.270/.352 in his brief 74 plate appearance cup of coffee. Once viewed as a power and speed threat, high strikeout rates have limited his productions.
  • Eric Surkamp has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group. The soft tossing lefty made a spot start for the Dodgers last week, allowing four runs and two home runs in 3.1 innings. Surkamp, 27, has a 6.47 ERA in 57 career innings. He’s been much better throughout his minor league career.

Heyman On Grilli, D-backs, Marlins, Dodgers

Here are the highlights from Jon Heyman’s massive new Inside Baseball article for CBS Sports. Be sure to check out Heyman on the latest edition of the MLBTR Podcast.

  • The Braves have had “serious talks” about dealing closer Jason Grilli to a contender, Heyman writes, with the Blue Jays and Dodgers among the teams that make the most sense.
  • The Diamondbacks have made infielder Aaron Hill and pitchers Jeremy Hellickson and Addison Reed available in trades, and all three players have attracted at least some interest.
  • The Marlins could trade starter Dan Haren for the right return. On paper, the Dodgers would seem to make sense, but that seems unlikely, since the Dodgers treated Haren basically as a throw-in in the Dee Gordon trade in the offseason. The Dodgers would also prefer to find a starter they could use in the playoffs, and Haren likely doesn’t qualify.
  • Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins could become available in a trade as top prospect Corey Seager continues to demonstrate he’s ready for the big leagues.
  • The Dodgers, Blue Jays, Nationals and perhaps other teams had scouts on hand as Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma returned from a lat injury this week. Iwakuma could be a trade candidate, but Heyman notes that giving up four homers to the Tigers probably didn’t exactly increase his value.
  • Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez still seems set on retiring after the season, despite agent Paul Kinzer’s efforts to get him to continue.
  • The Padres have been scouting the Mets lately, leading to speculation that the Mets could be trying to trade for Justin Upton.
  • The Phillies are “not bending” in their demands for Cole Hamels, and his limited no-trade clause remains an obstacle.
  • The Giants have had talks with free agent infielder Everth Cabrera. The Orioles released Cabrera last month. He would provide depth for San Francisco.

Minor MLB Transactions: 7/6/15

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Mariners have released utilityman Willie Bloomquist, the club announced (via’s Greg Johns, on Twitter). Bloomquist was designated for assignment recently after a tough .159/.194/.174 start to the season. Seattle will owe the versatile defender the rest of his $3MM salary for the year.
  • The Red Sox outrighted right-hander Zeke Spruill after recently designating him, per a club announcement (h/t to Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, via Twitter). As he’s never before been outrighted and has little service time, Spruill did not have the opportunity to elect free agency after clearing waivers. The 25-year-old will continue working at Triple-A, where he’s worked 53 1/3 innings with a 5.40 ERA with 3.9 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 over 53 1/3 innings for Pawtucket.

AL West Notes: Wilhelmsen, Crane, Angels

The Mariners officially demoted Tom Wilhelmsen to Triple-A prior to today’s game in the wake of the right-hander’s recent struggles.  Wilhelmsen has been a fixture in Seattle’s bullpen for the last five seasons and served as closer prior to Fernando Rodney‘s acquisition, yet he had allowed nine runs over his last 6 2/3 innings of work (over seven games).  Wilhelmsen has a 4.68 ERA, 10.1 K/9 and 2.55 K/BB over 25 IP this season, though a .413 BABIP may explain why is ERA is so much higher than his indicators (2.68 FIP, 3.50 xFIP, 3.32 SIERA).  Here’s some more from around the AL West…

  • Astros owner Jim Crane tells’s Brian McTaggart that GM Jeff Luhnow and his staff is “working hard” to find rotation help.  “If we can get the right move, I’m sure Jeff will pull the trigger.  He has the ability to do that if he wants to do it,” Crane said.  “It will depend on what kind of contract it is and how long it is and who it is and what we need, but I know it’s something a lot of teams are looking at right now.”
  • The conflict between Mike Scioscia’s coaching staff and Jerry Dipoto’s front office was “no clash of Ivy League nerds vs. old-school baseball men,” Grantland’s Jonah Keri writes.  Dipoto, assistant GM Scott Servais and pro scouting director Hal Morris were all long-time MLB veterans.  Keri suspects Servais could also soon leave the Angels given his issues with Scioscia and the coaches.  Keri’s piece outlines some of the disagreements between the Angels’ executives and coaches, including (as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal initially reported earlier in the week) seemingly routine team matters as how scouting information was being presented to the players.
  • In other AL West news from earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on some Angels/Brewers trade talks and speculation that Bud Black could be a favorite to be Anaheim’s new general manager.

Minor MLB Transactions: 7/4/15

Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.

  • Righty Ben Rowen has opted out of his contract with the Orioles and is now a free agent,’s Steve Melewski reports (via Twitter).  Rowen’s contract gave him the option of opting out if he wasn’t on the team’s MLB roster by July 1.  Rowen has a 2.41 ERA, 24 strikeouts and six walks over 37 1/3 Triple-A relief innings this season, and he appeared eight big league games with Texas in 2014.
  • Earlier this week, the Twins signed veteran righty Scott Atchison to a minor league contract, according to’s official transactions page.  Atchison his the open market last week when he was released by the Indians.  Atchison posted a 6.86 ERA, 5.5 K/9 and a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 19 2/3 innings out of Cleveland’s bullpen this season, though with strong numbers in 2011-14, it’s a no-risk signing by the Twins to see if Atchison can regain his form.
  • Reliever Ronald Belisario, who was recently outrighted by the Rays, has cleared waivers and elected to become a free agent, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The Rays recently designated Belisario for assignment after he allowed seven runs in eight innings in a brief stint with the team covering two weeks in late June.
  • The Mariners have outrighted outfielder Julio Morban,’s Greg Johns tweets. The move clears a spot on the Mariners’ 40-man roster, which now stands at 39. Morban, 23, had a pair of strong seasons in 2012 at Class A+ High Desert and in 2013 at Double-A Jackson. He has struggled with injury throughout his career, however, and his performance has tailed off significantly in the past two seasons. He only recently returned from a two-month stay on the restricted list due to personal reasons.
  • The Mariners have released righty Justin Germano and lefty Rafael Perez, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Both of them had out clauses. Germano confirms (via Twitter) that he will head to Korea to pitch with the KT Wiz. The 32-year-old was in the midst of a good season for Triple-A Tacoma, with a 2.83 ERA, 6.6 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 89 innings. The 33-year-old Perez had been on loan to Quintana Roo in the Mexican League and had not actually pitched in the Mariners system.
  • The Rangers have traded outfielder Jake Skole to the Yankees for cash, FOX Sports Southwest’s Anthony Andro tweets. Skole, the 15th overall pick in the 2010 draft, was hitting .218/.313/.335 for Double-A Frisco, consistent with his walk-heavy but generally unimpressive offensive performances throughout the minor league career.
  • Andy Oliver has opted out of his minor league deal with the Rays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The 27-year-old Oliver has good stuff, particularly for a lefty, but has struggled with control problems throughout his career. He had a 3.86 ERA and 10.3 K/9 but with 7.7 BB/9 in 28 innings for Triple-A Durham. The Phillies took him in the Rule 5 Draft last winter, but he elected free agency after they outrighted him in April.
  • The Giants have signed outfielder Xavier Avery to a minor league deal, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News tweets. The 25-year-old Avery opted out of his deal with the Tigers this week after hitting .305/.371/.393 for Triple-A Toledo. The Giants have assigned him to Triple-A Sacramento.
  • The Orioles have signed Cuban first baseman Yaisel Mederos,’s Roch Kubatko tweets. The 25-year-old Mederos hit .268/.343/.402 in parts of four seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He only hit 12 home runs in 531 plate appearances, although Kubatko notes that Mederos has power potential.

Mariners Sign Erik Kratz To Minor League Deal

The Mariners announced that they’ve signed catcher Erik Kratz to a minor league deal. The 35-year-old Kratz, a client of Metis Sports Management, will head to Triple-A Tacoma for the time being. Earlier today, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweeted that Kratz had agreed to a deal with a new team, with Seattle a likely landing spot.

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. He began the season with Royals, who ultimately opted to go with Drew Butera as their backup catcher over Kratz. Boston picked him up off waivers when he was designated for assignment by Kansas City, but they, too designated Kratz once it was determined that an injury to promising young backstop Blake Swihart was minor. FOX’s Jon Morosi noted at the time Kratz elected free agency that the Mariners were a possible landing spot.