Winter Meetings Round-Up

In the end, it was a rather quiet Winter Meetings for the Mariners. The team added three players – two who are expected to start in the majors next year, and one question mark.

It doesn’t appear that any of the moves will have an impact on the 2011 Tacoma Rainiers.

The Mariners signed two free agents: designated hitter Jack Cust, and former Tacoma catcher Miguel Olivo. Both are short-term contracts without a whole lot of budget tied up in them.

Cust, the longtime PCL slugger who finally broke through with Oakland a few years ago, is likely to be the starting DH for the Mariners this coming season. Cust should represent a slight upgrade over last year’s DH, Russell Branyan. Cust typically posts a higher on-base percentage and spends less time on the disabled list than Branyan.

Olivo seems to be a bit of a controversial signing in some corners of the internet, as he really struggled in his previous time with the Mariners (2004). But keep in mind that the Mariners had serious catching problems last year; Olivo should be able to improve on that.

The third player added is a real mystery: the Mariners selected Class-A pitcher Josh Flores in the Rule 5 Draft. This is the draft where the player must stay in the major leagues the entire season, or else be offered back to his original organization (in this case, the Cleveland Indians).

Flores is a 21-year-old Venezuelan who had impressive numbers in the low-A Midwest League last year, but asking him to make the jump all the way to the majors is a tall order. It will be tough for him to make the Mariners roster, and don’t be surprised if he’s back with the Indians by the end of spring training.

The Mariners will take a long look at Flores during spring training, and they will use that time to decide what to do with him.

Links:

  • From Orlando, Ryan Divish of The News Tribune has a story on Miguel Olivo, and another on how his signing effects Adam Moore. Also, these moves seem to indicate that Rob Johnson will be back with the Rainiers – although a trade would change that.
  • The Seattle Times also has the story on Olivo, Flores, and Moore. Larry Stone writes about the Mariners long search for the “catcher of the future.”
  • Hmm. Minor League expert John Sickles is giving Jose Flores a better chance of making the Mariners roster that I just did.
  • Jason Churchill has a fun, free, rumor-filled, Mariners-centric Winter Meetings Wrap at his website.
  • In the PCL, the Sacramento Bee caught up with new RiverCats manager Darren Bush, and old skipper Tony D.
  • Different city, different Bee: Marek at the Fresno Bee has a brief update on the Grizzlies winter roster changes.

I stopped by Cheney Stadium on Wednesday and took some pictures of the construction project. I’ll put them up next week!

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