Left-hander Danny Hultzen, who was designated for assignment on Friday by the Mariners after three injury plagued seasons, has cleared waivers and will be outrighted to Triple-A Tacoma.
Hultzen thus remains with the Mariners organization that selected him with the second pick in the 2011 Draft and will continue his attempt to work his way back from rotator cuff and labrum surgery that sidelined him for all of 2014 and allowed him to pitch just eight innings last season with Double-A Jackson (0-1, 3.38 ERA) before being shut down again.
Hultzen was moved off the 40-man roster when infielder/outfielder Patrick Kivlehan and outfielder Boog Powell were promoted on Friday to protect them from Rule 5 Draft exposure. Hultzen could now be selected in the Rule 5 Draft, but that seems unlikely since any interested team could have claimed him now instead of waiting for the Dec. 10 process.
If he is selected in the Rule 5 Draft, he’d have to be kept on that team’s 25-man roster for the entire season or offered back to the Mariners.
The 25-year-old hasn’t thrown since being shut down last August, but is expected to begin a normal throwing program in January with the goal of being ready to go at the start of Spring Training.
“He just wants to continue to rest and rehab and strengthen the shoulder before picking up a ball in the new year,” assistant general manager Jeff Kingston said. “Obviously, that’s an unknown at this point, how he’ll feel when he does pick up a ball. He feels he’ll be good to go in Spring Training. We’ll just have to wait and see on that.”
Hultzen looked strong in camp last year for Seattle, but couldn’t maintain that in the regular season and wound up appearing in just three games for Jackson. He’s totaled just 43 2/3 innings over the past three seasons.
The Mariners still feel Hultzen’s best role would be as a starting candidate, but it’ll take time to build up his arm strength and innings total. When healthy, he’s posted a 14-9 record and 2.84 ERA with 186 strikeouts in 167 2/3 innings over 35 Minor League starts.
New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto reached back into his former Angels team to make his first new free-agent acquisition, signing veteran catcher Chris Iannetta to a one-year Major League contract on Monday.
John Hicks, a 26-year-old catcher who hit .063 in 32 at-bats for Seattle last season, was designated for assignment to open a spot on the 40-man roster.
Iannetta, 32, spent the last four seasons with the Angels after being acquired by Dipoto in a trade with the Rockies in 2011 for pitcher Tyler Chatwood. He gives Seattle an experienced catcher to go along with Mike Zunino, a well-regarded 24-year-old who has struggled to hit at the Major League level and finished last season with Triple-A Tacoma.
“This move improves our depth at a critical position,” said Dipoto. “Chris provides us with a solid veteran presence behind the plate, as well as an experienced Major League hitter with strong on-base skills who will lengthen our lineup.”
Iannetta is coming off a rough 2015 season himself, having batted .188 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs in 92 games after getting off to a slow start with a .093 average in April. But he carries a career line of .231/.351/.405 in 10 seasons in the Majors with the Rockies and Angels and hit .252/.373/392 in 108 games in 2014.
Iannetta earned $5.5 million last season in the final year of a three-year, $15.5 million contract and was credited with helping mentor Angels rookie Carlos Perez, who eventually replaced him as the starting catcher in the second half.
Iannetta’s .351 on-base percentage since the start of 2006 is tied for the third-best among catchers with a minuimum of 3,000 plate appearances behind San Francisco’s Buster Posey (.375), Toronto’s Russell Martin (.352) and tied with Philadelphia’s Carlos Ruiz (.351). Among catchers with a minumum of 800 games since 2006, he has the top fielding percentage in the Majors at .995.
Adding an established catcher was one of Dipoto’s primary targets this offseason. Zunino, the third overall pick in the 2012 Draft, is a strong defender and handles pitchers well, but hit just .174 with 11 homers in 112 games in 2015 and .199 with 22 homers in 131 games in 2014.
The Mariners used five catchers last season – Zunino, Hicks, Jesus Sucre, Welington Castillo and Steven Baron – and they combined to bat just .159, by far the lowest production in the Majors.
Dipoto has made four trades involving 16 players in the past three weeks and also re-signed Mariners free agent outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, but Iannetta represents his first free agent pickup from another club.
Hicks joins former Virginia teammate Danny Hultzen on the DFA list. The Mariners designated Hultzen for assignment on Friday. The club has 10 days to trade, release or outright both players to the Minors. Hicks, a fourth-round selection in the 2011 Draft, has hit .280 in 403 games over five Minor League seasons and batted .245 with six homers and 35 RBIs in 83 games for Triple-A Tacoma last season before being called up in late August.
Former Mariners pitcher Mike Hampton has been hired as the team’s new bullpen coach and long-time utility player Casey Candaele will be the new first base coach, the club announced Monday.
The two hirings fill out the primary coaching positions for new manager Scott Servais, who previously had named bench coach Tim Bogar, hitting coach Edgar Martinez, pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. and third base coach Manny Acta.
“Casey brings a great presence and high baseball IQ to our staff,” Servais said. “He’ll be working with our outfielders and on baserunning, both areas that he is uniquely prepared for given his experience over the past five years. Mike brings a tremendous amount of experience. His competitive nature will team well with Mel Stottlemyre as they help guide our pitching staff through the season.”
Hampton pitched for the Mariners in 1993 at the start of a 16-year Major League career during which he posted a 148-115 record with a 4.06 ERA with six different clubs. The 43-year-old was a pitching coach in the Angels’ Minor League system in 2013 with Double-A Arkansas and 2014 with their Arizona League squad.
Hampton, originally drafted in the sixth round by the Mariners in 1990, was a National League All-Star with the Astros in 1999 and Rockies in 2001, a Gold Glove winner in 2003 and a five-time Silver Slugger Award winner. He finished second in the 1999 Cy Young Award voting after going 22-4 with a 2.90 ERA for the Astros.
Candaele, 54, spent last year as the field coordinator for the Rangers, overseeing instruction for Minor League players at all levels of their organization and coordinating Spring Training and instructional league operations. He was the Minor League infield and base running coordinator for Texas the previous four seasons.
Candaele played nine seasons in the Majors with the Expos, Astros and Indians from 1986-97, hitting .250 in 754 games. He was primarily a second baseman, but also appeared in games at every other infield position and all three outfield spots.
Candaele’s late mother, Helen Callaghan St. Aubin, played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, making him and his mother the only mother-son combination believed to have ever played pro baseball at the highest available levels.
Chris Woodward initially was offered the opportunity to return as Seattle’s first-base coach, but he subsequently informed the team he wanted to work closer to his family in Florida. That leaves Martinez as the only returning member of last year’s coaching staff.
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto reached into his former organization on Friday, claiming outfielder Dan Robertson off waivers from the Angels.
The Mariners also outrighted right-handed reliever JC Ramirez to Tacoma to open a spot on the 40-man roster, which currently sits at 37 players.
Robertson hit .280 with 10 runs, two doubles and seven RBIs in 75 at-bats over 37 games during two different stints with the Angels last year. He played 27 games in left field (11 starts), seven in center (four starts) and one in right.
Robertson batted .265 with 16 doubles and one home run in 60 games for Triple-A Salt Lake.
The 30-year-old California native played with the Rangers in 2014 when new Mariners bench coach Tim Bogar was bench coach and interim manager with Texas, putting up a .271/.333/.667 line in 70 games with nine doubles, a triple and six stolen bases.
A 33rd-round Draft pick of the Padres out of Oregon State in 2008, Robertson has hit .299 with a .377 on-base percentage in eight Minor League seasons.
Ramirez, 27, was acquired from the D-backs on July 27 and was 0-1 with a 7.56 ERA in eight relief appearances as a September callup. He posted a 2.50 ERA in 14 games with Triple-A Tacoma.
Woodward and hitting coach Edgar Martinez were the only coaches on former manager Lloyd McClendon’s staff who were asked to return in their same positions. Martinez has accepted that offer.
Woodward, 39, told the team he had discussed the situation with his family and decided he wanted to be closer to his home in Florida.
Woodward was the Mariners infield instructor and first base coach the past two years under McClendon. He played 12 seasons n the Majors, including two years with Seattle in 2009-10, before retiring in 2012. He then signed on as the Mariners’ Minor League infield coordinator in 2013 before being promoted to the Major League staff in the final months of that season.
Woodward’s departure leaves new manager Scott Servais with three coaching openings still to fill. The club has hired Mel Stottlemyre Jr. as pitching coach and Tim Bogar as bench coach, but still is in the process of interviewing for a third base coach, bullpen coach and now first base coach.
“I can’t say we’re close, but we’re currently in discussions with a variety of different candidates,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said.
The team released bench coach Trent Jewett, third base coach Rich Donnelly, outfield coach Andy Van Slyke and bullpen coach Mike Rojas after the season. Former pitching coach Rick Waits has been offered a position in the Minor League system.
Jerry Dipoto isn’t wasting any time revamping the Mariners roster as the new general manager engineered a six-player trade with the Rays on Thursday that brings starting pitcher Nathan Karns, reliever C.J. Riefenhauser and well-regarded Minor League outfielder Boog Powell to the club.
In return, Tampa Bay received first baseman Logan Morrison, utility man Brad Miller and reliever Danny Farquhar. The move was the first trade for Dipoto since he was hired to replace Jack Zduriencik.
Karns, 27, was 7-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 27 games as a rookie right-hander with the Rays last season. The 6-foot-5. 225-pound Texas native led all American League rookies in innings pitched (147), strikeouts (145) and starts (26), while holding opponents to a .239 batting average before being shut down in the season’s final two weeks with some minor soreness in his forearm.
Riefenhauser, 25, made 17 appearances and posted a 1-0 record and 5.52 ERA over four stints with the Rays in 2015. In his final 11 appearances as a September callup, the left-hander had a 2.16 ERA in 8 1/3 innings and closed out the year with seven straight scoreless outings. He also appeared in 29 games in relief with Triple-A Durham where he was 4-2 with a 2.86 ERA and one save in 34 2/3 innings.
Powell, 22, is the No. 13 ranked prospect in the Rays organization by MLB.com’s Pipeline. He hit .295 with 16 doubles, nine triples, three homers and 18 stolen bases between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. He was named to the Southern League All-Star team with Montgomery after hitting .328 with a .408 on-base percentage in 61 games, then batted .257 with 10 doubles, three triples and two home runs in 56 games with Durham.
Powell was obtained by trade from the A’s last year. He’s a left-hander who can play center field and has a low strikeout and high walk rate in the Minors, where he’s hit .308 with a .401 on-base percentage and 53 stolen bases in 294 games over four seasons. His official name is Herschel Mack Powell IV, but he’s gone by Boog Powell since his grandfather referred to him by the name of the former Orioles slugger during his childhood.
The Mariners gave up three players who were part of their Major League club the last two seasons. Morrison, 28, appeared in 146 games last year while hitting .225 with 17 homers and 54 RBIs, but lost playing time at first base with the midseason acquisition of Mark Trumbo. The Mariners also have Jesus Montero at first base.
Miller, 26, opened the season as Seattle’s starting shortstop, but lost that role to rookie Ketel Marte and was transitioned to the outfield. He hit .258 with 11 home runs and 46 RBIs in 144 games while playing all three outfield spots as well as second, third and shortstop. Miller, a second-round Draft pick in 2011, hit .248 over 343 games with the Mariners over the past three seasons.
Farquhar, 28, was a big part of the Mariners’ bullpen success in 2014, but went 1-8 with a 5.12 ERA in 43 games over five different stints with Seattle last year. In three seasons with the club, the Pembroke Pines, Fla., native was 4-12 with a 3.85 ERA and 18 saves in 155 games.
All three of the outgoing Mariners have Florida ties. Miller grew up and still lives in Windermere, Fla., while Farquhar is a native of Pembroke Pines, Fla., and Morrison was drafted by the Marlins, spent his first four Major League seasons in that organization and makes his offseason home in Jupiter, Fla.
Morrison earned $2.7 million last year and figures to make about $4 million in his final season of arbitration eligibility before becoming a free agent in 2017. The other five players involved in the deal are all in their pre-arbitration years.
For the seventh time in eight years, the Mariners will open their season on the road next April when they kick off their 2016 campaign in Arlington against the American League West rival Rangers.
Major League Baseball released its tentative 2016 schedule on Tuesday and the Mariners are lined up to face Texas in a three-game series starting Monday, April 4. Seattle’s home opener will be Friday, April 8, at 7:10 p.m. PT against Oakland at Safeco Field.
The Mariners broke a six-year run of opening on the road this year when they started the season at Safeco Field against the Angels.
Seattle’s opening homestand will feature the A’s and Rangers and the Mariners then will head back on the road for a nine-game, 10-day trip to face the Yankees, Indians and Angels.
Next season’s Interleague matchup has the AL West facing the National League Central. The Cardinals come to Safeco for a weekend series on June 24-26, followed by the Pirates on June 28-29 and the Brewers on Aug. 19-21.
The Mariners will travel to Pittsburgh on June 26-27 and have a three-game set against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 29-31.
Seattle’s annual back-to-back Interleague series against the Padres will be at Safeco Field on May 30-31 and then Petco Field in San Diego on June 1-2.
Other Safeco Field highlights next year will include the Red Sox in town for four games from Aug. 1-4 and the Yankees for a three-game series on Aug. 22-24. The season concludes with a four-game series against the A’s at Safeco from Sept 29-Oct. 2.
The final schedule, including all start times, will be released by MLB in January. Here’s the Mariners’ complete tentative schedule:
David Rollins, the Mariners Rule 5 Draft pick last December from the Astros, was one of three players added to Seattle’s 25-man roster on Saturday morning to complete a flurry of moves that began after Friday’s 9-5 victory over the A’s.
Rollins, a left-handed reliever who drew an 80-game suspension after testing positive for an anabolic steroid during Spring Training, had to be added to the 25-man roster on Saturday or put through waivers and offered back to the Astros, per Rule 5 Draft rules now that he’s no longer suspended.
The 25-year-old pitched well enough the past two weeks in Triple-A Tacoma to convince the Mariners he’s worth the roster spot for now at least, as he threw 9 1/3 scoreless innings in seven appearances to continue the outstanding work he’d done in spring.
Also added Saturday were right-handed reliever Mayckol Guiape and outfielder James Jones, both recalled from Tacoma. All three are available for Saturday’s 1:05 p.m. PT game against the A’s.
Guiape takes the bullpen opening created by Friday’s decision to option veteran Tom Wilhelmsen to Tacoma after his rough recent performance. Rollins replaces left-hander Vidal Nuno, who was also sent down Friday night.
Jones is most likely a short-term addition, giving manager Lloyd McClendon an extra speed option on the bench this weekend before veteran right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma is activated off the disabled list on Monday to start against the Tigers at Safeco Field.
Roenis Elias, who started 13 games after Iwakuma went on the DL with a strained lat muscle in April, was the third pitcher optioned to Tacoma after Friday’s 9-5 win over the A’s.
Manager Lloyd McClendon noted Friday night that Elias probably didn’t deserve to be sent down after pitching fairly well in place of Iwakuma, but the Mariners have pretty good depth in their rotation. In addition to ace Felix Hernandez — who is pitching Saturday against the A’s — Taijuan Walker has been on a tear and veteran lefty J.A. Happ has pitched better than hsi record indicates due to lack of run support and doesn’t have any Minor League options anyway.
The other choice would have ben to send Mike Montgomery back to Tacoma, but he’s thrown back-to-back shutouts and posted a 1.62 ERA in place of the injured James Paxton, who isn’t expected back until August at the earliest as he deals with a strained finger tendon.
Infielder Chris Taylor was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday in time to join the Mariners as they open a four-game series with the A’s, while veteran utility man Willie Bloomquist was designated for assignment to make room on the 25-man roster.
Bloomquist says he’s not ready to retire and hopes a spot opens for him on another Major League club that has more of an opportunity for him to contribute in the final half of the season.
“For me honestly, it’s a mixture of emotions,” Bloomquist said by phone while cleaning out his locker at Safeco Field after flying home Thursday. “I’m doing great. I’m not disappointed or mad at anyone. I’ve been around this game long enough to understand the business side. Sometimes moves have to happen. I get it.
“Obviously I’m tremendously grateful for the Mariners organization. They’re the guys that drafted me and brought me back. I grew up here. I was a Mariners fan and I’ll always be a Mariners fan. To be able to play in the big leagues for 7 ½ years in Seattle, who can say that? It’s been awesome. I’ve loved every minute of it.”
That said, Bloomquist doesn’t want his career to end on a season where he’s hit just .159 with one double and four RBIs in 69 at-bats over 35 games.
“I hate leaving Seattle because I love Seattle,” he said. “But I’m not going out like this. That’s not going to happen. I’ve worked too hard and I cartainly hope to get another shot.”
Bloomquist, 37, missed the last month of 2014 after microfracture knee surgery, but worked hard over the winter to be ready for the start of Spring Training and says health is not an issue.
“I was expecting big things not only from myself, but my team as well,” Bloomquist said. “So to have this happen, it stinks. It’s not fun. I’m hoping there’s another opportunity that will be better than this situation that I’m personally in right now.
“I love to compete. I understand my role, I get all that. But for me to sit and watch and not do what I think I’m capable of doing and have proved I’m capable of doing has been very frustrating. I know I’m hitting .160, but I’m not going to judge myself on 60 at-bats. I know I’m better than that.”
Bloomquist said he’s loved playing for manager Lloyd McClendon, who he calls one of his favorite managers ever. But he wants to play and acknowledged the situation in Seattle – with Robinson Cano at second, Kyle Seager at third, youngsters like Taylor and Brad Miller at short and a big group of outfielders – didn’t leave him much of a spot.
“I still have an extreme fuel and fire in my life,” Bloomquist said. “I’m looking forward to getting to a team that sees a value in me. I know my numbers are awful. They’re downright atrocious. But I also know what I’m capable of doing and hopefully the phone will ring and I’ll get an opportunity.”
Taylor, 24, is rejoining the Mariners for the second time this season. He played 20 games at shortstop earlier this year but put up just a .159/.221/.206 line and was optioned back to Tacoma.
Taylor hit .287 in 47 games with the Mariners as a rookie in 2014 and is regarded as a strong defender. He batted .289 with nine doubles, four triples, two home runs and 16 RBIs in 48 games for Tacoma this year.
Bloomquist is a career .269 hitter in 1,055 Major League games. He signed back with Seattle on a two-year, $5.8 million deal last year and hit .278 in 47 games in 2014 before missing the final month.
Infielder Chris Taylor will be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday in time to join the Mariners as they open a four-game series with the A’s, while veteran utility man Willie Bloomquist has been designated for assignment.
Taylor, 24, will be rejoining the Mariners for the second time this season. He played 20 games at shortstop earlier this year but put up just a .159/.221/.206 line and was optioned back to Tacoma. Rainiers manager Pat Listach told The News Tribune that Taylor was being promoted after he was pulled from Tacoma’s game on Wednesday night.
Taylor hit .287 in 47 games as a rookie in 2014 and is regarded as a strong defender. He batted .289 with nine doubles, four triples, two home runs and 16 RBIs in 48 games for Tacoma.
Bloomquist, 37, is a 14-year Major League veteran who is in his second stint with the Mariners team that drafted him in 1999 and gave him his start in the Majors from 2002-08. The versatile Bloomquist is a career .269 hitter in 1,055 Major League games, but has hit just .159 with one double and four RBIs in 69 at-bats over 35 games this season.
Bloomquist signed back with Seattle on a two-year, $5.8 million deal last year and hit .278 in 47 games in 2014 before missing the final month following knee surgery. He is being paid $3 million this season.
Bloomquist wound up playing 622 games over nine years with Seattle, his hometown team after growing up in Bremerton, Wash., and attending South Kitsap High before going on to Arizona State University.
He played just 12 games as a late-season call-up in 2002, then began his versatile career in earnest in 2003 when he played at all four infield positions as well as left field and designated hitter. In his career – which also included stints with the Royals, D-backs and Reds – Bloomquist appeared in 339 games in the outfield, 305 at shortstop, 142 at third base, 141 at second, 47 at first and 46 at DH.