Lots of Mariners news today, as baseball’s off-season machinations are in motion.
Wednesday afternoon the Mariners announced that they declined club options on 2011 contracts for Russell Branyan, Jose Lopez, and Erik Bedard; today Casey Kotchman was added to the list. This news was not surprising to close followers of the team. The Mariners may make an attempt to re-sign Branyan for a smaller amount, but I would think they are done with the “let’s sign Bedard and see if he can get healthy” gamble.
Former Rainiers infielder Jose Lopez is still Mariners property because he has not yet qualified for free agency. The M’s could potentially still cut ties with him by not offering him a contract for 2011 – something that has been speculated by many.
With Justin Smoak set to take over first base in Seattle full-time in 2011, there is just no reason to keep Kotchman on the team.
Also in the official press release, we learned that several players with Tacoma ties cleared waivers and were removed from the Mariners 40-man roster. This list included Ryan Langerhans, Guillermo Quiroz, Chris Seddon, Ryan Feierabend, and Sean White. Each of these players has the right to declare free agency – and both Langerhans and Quiroz already have. The rest need to decide soon – I’m not sure when the deadline is, but it may be as soon as this weekend.
Of those players, I think that Seddon and White are most likely to remain Mariners – and potentially Rainiers to start 2011, if they choose to stay. Seddon re-signed with Seattle as a Triple-A free agent after the 2009 season, and he ended up spending about half the season in the major leagues – so I think he probably had a good experience. As for White, he lives in Seattle, he went to UW – it would be a lifestyle change for him to go elsewhere. But, he may decide its best for his career to play elsewhere.
Feierabend is 25 years old, left-handed, and now one year removed from Tommy John surgery. Even though he didn’t have a great 2010 season, he’s going to be a hot commodity on the minor league free agent market.
Soon, Baseball America will publish the official list of minor league free agents. Some of the names you can expect to see from the Rainiers include Ian Snell, Andy Baldwin, David Winfree, and Mike Wilson. We’ll dive into it more deeply here once it is announced.
Also, we learned that Brian Sweeney was claimed on waivers by Arizona – presumably to fill the “rubber-armed strike thrower at the back of the bullpen” role.
Let’s get to the links:
- Here is Larry LaRue’s story about the Mariners moves from this morning’s edition of The News Tribune.
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times also wrote about the moves, and then he added some news this afternoon: it looks like Jaime Navarro, the Rainiers pitching coach last season, will be the Mariners bullpen coach. Baker says the M’s coaching staff will be announced shortly – will Daren Brown be on it? Will he be back in Tacoma? Or will he be typing his resume? We should find out very soon.
- Everett Herald reporter Kirby Arnold filed a story on Michael Saunders and the work he is doing this off-season, and then he followed up with a blog item that includes many good Mariners-related tidbits from the Arizona Fall League.
- Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson passed away today, at age 76. I did not know Sparky, but he was a dugout fixture in the games I watched in my youth – his 1984 Tigers team was one of the first teams outside of the area I grew up in that I remember rooting for. Here is a very thorough Associated Press obituary.
We’ll try to stay on top of the M’s news here. In the meantime, I’ll be researching that planned historical look at the 1969 Tacoma Cubs next week, so that will be coming eventually.