The Mariners and Trader Jerry have been extremely active leading up the Winter Meetings. Here’s a recap of what has happened in the last 24 hours:
Seattle claimed left-handed first baseman Andy Wilkins off waivers. He’s primarily played in Triple-A recently, including a 30 home run season for Charlotte in 2014. Last year he hit 18 home runs while batting .249 with a .307 OBP for Oklahoma City in 105 games. He then was claimed off waivers by Toronto and finished the season with Buffalo.
Wilkins has been passed around the waiver wire quite a bit. Looking at his career profile, I believe he has one minor league option year remaining – making him a good candidate to play for Tacoma this season.
To make room for Wilkins on the 40-man roster, the Mariners designated hard-throwing lefthander Edgar Olmos for assignment. Olmos could clear waivers and join the Rainiers, but we won’t know for ten days or so.
(In 2015 Olmos was involved in one of the strangest transactions I’ve ever seen: he was in the majors and was optioned to Tacoma on the final day of the PCL season, even though the major league rosters had already been expanded to 40 for an entire week. He was optioned to Tacoma on September 7th and joined the team in time for a day game in Las Vegas to finish the PCL season, and then he went home.)
Seattle announced that Tacoma’s Patrick Kivlehan is going to the Rangers as the player to be named later in the November 16th deal that saw the Mariners acquire Leonys Martin. Kivlehan had a pretty solid first Triple-A season in 2015, hitting .256 with 22 home runs and 73 RBI. He’ll need more Triple-A time but could develop into a major league contributor. That final trade was Kivlehan, James Jones, and Tom Wilhelmsen for Leonys Martin and Anthony Bass.
The team announced that catcher John Hicks was claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Twins. Hicks was placed on waivers when he was DFA’d on November 23. The Twins Triple-A affiliate is Rochester of the International League, so we won’t see him as a visiting player this season.
Then there is the bullpen. The Mariners have signed former Phillies relief pitcher Justin De Fratus to a major league deal. In what is a familiar story these days, De Fratus had a really good 2014 season but struggled in 2015 (career stats here). Another bounce-back candidate for Dipoto.
The team has also not yet officially announced the signing of free agent outfielder Nori Aoki, because he has to pass his physical – which is not a lock, due to his concussion issues. If cleared by physicians, Aoki is a high-OBP (by Mariners standards) outfielder who will likely see a lot of playing time for Seattle in 2016.
And finally there is the trade sending Mark Trumbo and recently acquired reliever C.J. Riefenhauser to Baltimore for back-up catcher Steve Clevenger. Rifenhauser joins the traded-for-and-traded-away-without-ever-suiting-up-for-the-Mariners club which Aaron Heilman is a fairly recent member of (among others).
Trading Trumbo clears a lot of salary space but also leaves the Mariners without an established first baseman. For the moment, the only first basemen on the 40-man roster are Jesus Montero and the just-acquired Wilkins. Personally, I’d like to see what Montero could do with 600 at-bats in the majors, but I have no idea what Dipoto is thinking along those lines – he seems very concerned about defense, which is not Montero’s strongest attribute.
So, to recap:
- In: reliever Justin De Fratus, catcher Steve Clevenger, first baseman Andy Wilkins.
- Out: catcher John Hicks, first baseman Mark Trumbo, reliever C.J. Riefenhauser, inf/of Patrick Kivlehan.
- In baseball limbo: pitcher Edgar Olmos.
All this and the Winter Meetings haven’t even started yet!
- We’ll start with Bob Dutton’s latest story on the slew of moves.
- Ryan Divish’s rolling river of roster reports can be found here.
- Seattle Times columnist Matt Callkins wonders if the M’s should trade Nelson Cruz.
- Jonah Keri of ESPN has his winter meeting preview for the American League teams right here.
- In the PCL, New Orleans has a new 50% owner and it sounds like they are having a change in the way the team’s business is operated.