- Mariners righty Jonathan Aro has been hit with a 50-game suspension for an unspecified violation of the league’s PED policy, per a league announcement. The 26-year-old reliever had been outrighted off of the 40-man roster previously. He has seen 11 innings of MLB action over the past two years, but has spent the bulk of his time since the start of 2015 pitching in the upper minors. In 88 Triple-A frames, Aro owns a 2.86 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9.
The Mariners have designated outfielder Leonys Martin for assignment, according to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (Twitter links). First baseman Dan Vogelbach and right-hander Chris Heston have been called up from Triple-A Tacoma in corresponding moves, while righty Chase De Jong has been sent down to Triple-A.
[Updated Mariners depth chart at Roster Resource]
Martin is off to a very rough start this season, hitting just .111/.172/.130 through his first 58 plate appearances. This continues Martin’s slump from the last two months of the 2016 season, which put a damper on an overall productive first season in Seattle. Martin generated 2.2 fWAR on the heels of a .247/.306/.378 campaign in 576 PA, even if his base-running and defense contributed more to his value than his hitting.
Even Martin’s vaunted center field glove took a hit in 2016, however — he managed just a +4.2 UZR/150 and -2 Defensive Runs Saved, very middling numbers for a player who posted 45 DRS from 2013-15. Between this step backwards on defense, continued issues at the plate and a desire to give more playing time to Jarrod Dyson in center, it makes sense why Seattle would seek to move on from Martin.
The Mariners avoided arbitration with Martin by agreeing to a one-year, $4.85MM deal with him for the 2017 season, a sizeable enough salary that it seems unlikely another team would claim Martin on waivers. A trade could be a possibility; this is just my speculation, but the Tigers, Giants, and Pirates stand out as teams that could potentially use a left-handed hitting outfielder capable of playing center.
Vogelbach was originally ticketed for a timeshare at first base this season before a somewhat surprising demotion to Triple-A during Spring Training. With Danny Valencia struggling, however, it opens the door for Vogelbach to get some at-bats against right-handed pitching. The Mariners are also likely looking for ways to keep the hot-hitting Taylor Motter in the lineup with Jean Segura returning shortly from the DL, so Motter could factor into the mix at first or in left field (if Guillermo Heredia gets some time in center field).
- Before last night’s game, the Mariners announced that they recalled righty Chase De Jong from Triple-A Tacoma and optioned righty Dan Altavilla to Tacoma. Altavilla had allowed three runs the previous night against the A’s, and De Jong had fared well in two Triple-A starts. The Mariners acquired De Jong from the Dodgers near the beginning of Spring Training, and he figured to contribute to their starting depth after pitching 147 innings with a 2.82 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in a strong 2016 season in the high minors of the Dodgers’ system.
- Mariners manager Scott Servais heaped praise onto offseason trade acquisition Mitch Haniger following yesterday’s huge performance (both in the field and at the plate), as MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes. “We’ve liked everything we’ve seen from Mitch since the first day we got him to Spring Training,” said Servais of Haniger, who hit his fourth home run, robbed a homer from Joey Gallo and drew a bases-loaded walk to score the game-tying run in the ninth in yesterday’s game. “How he’s gone about his business, and obviously he’s been very productive for us. He does his homework, he’s as prepared as anybody we have, and he’s got a lot of confidence.” While Jean Segura grabbed the most attention as the headliner going to Seattle in the trade that sent Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte to Arizona, Haniger’s early play has solidified him as the everyday right fielder in Seattle. He’s currently hitting .294/.410/.588 through his first 61 plate appearances.
- Mariners infielder Jean Segura and reliever Steve Cishek are close to returning from injury, writes MLB.com’s Greg Johns. Segura has been doing some supervised running to test his ailing hamstring, and hopes to return on Friday, when is when he’s first eligible to come back after going on the DL last Tuesday. Cishek, meanwhile, is beginning a rehab assignment with Double-A Arkansas. Cishek is still making his way back after having microfracture hip surgery last October.
- The Mariners could start selling talent early if they don’t improve after starting the season 3-8, Cafardo writes. Should the Mariners become sellers, I’d speculate that potential trade candidates could include Danny Valencia, Carlos Ruiz, Jarrod Dyson, Yovani Gallardo and Steve Cishek, all of whom are eligible (or potentially eligible) for free agency after this season. Players like Marc Rzepczynski, Leonys Martin and even Nelson Cruz and Jean Segura could also be subjects of speculation.
- Righty Casey Fien has accepted a Triple-A assignment with the Mariners after clearing outright waivers, as Bob Dutton and TJ Cotterill of the Tacoma News Tribune report (Twitter links). Fien, who said it was an easy call to remain in the organization, was designated after a few rough outings. But the 33-year-old still has plenty of life to his fastball and was registering swings and misses, and he figures to be one of the first players up if a need rises.
- Righty Tony Zych is back in action for the Mariners, with the club announcing he has been activated from the 10-day DL. Southpaw Dillon Overton is heading out on optional assignment to open a roster spot. Shoulder issues hampered Zych last year and forced him into surgery, but he’ll look to regain the excellent form he showed in 2015 — which would be quite welcome for a Seattle club that is off to a dreadful start. Meanwhile, Steve Cishek is nearing a rehab assignment and could be back in the majors, too, after he makes three or four appearances, MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets.
5:42pm: The teams have announced the deal, which sends an international signing bonus allocation — slot #105 of the 2016-17 period, which is worth $198K in spending capacity — to Seattle. Baltimore has designated righty Parker Bridwell to clear roster space.
Baltimore has continued to tweak its pitching mix of late, and now the organization has another optionable arm on hand. Fry spun 55 Triple-A frames of 2.78 ERA ball last year. Though he retired 10.6 batters per nine vi strikeout, he also permitted 5.1 free passes per nine on the year. Fry has yet to appear at the major league level.
- Mariners righty Tony Zych could be nearing a return, as Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports, with Steve Cishek not farm behind him. It remains to be seen whether Zych will head to the MLB roster, as he could also be optioned. Manager Scott Servais praised the righty’s form after a sim game, saying he looked “very sharp.”