November 2012

Quick turnaround: Andino signs one-year deal

New York Yankees vs Baltimore Orioles, 2012 American League Division SeriesRobert Andino’s fling with free agency was brief on Friday night, as the Mariners newly-acquired infielder signed a one-year contract with Seattle about 15 minutes after he was non-tendered at the 9 p.m. PT deadline.

Though Andino momentarily became a free agent with his non-tendering, clearly he and the Mariners were working on a deal that was ultimately announced at 9:15 p.m.

The club also signed right-handed reliever Josh Kinney to a one-year deal and tendered contracts to their four-other arbitration-eligible players: starting pitcher Jason Vargas, shortstop Brendan Ryan, catcher John Jaso and reliever Shawn Kelley.

All clubs had to extend contract offers to unsigned players by the Friday night deadline, otherwise they become free agents as “non-tenders.”

Andino was just acquired from the Orioles 10 days ago in a trade for outfielder Trayvon Robinson. He earned $1.3 million last year in his first season of arbitration-eligibility.

Kinney was set to enter his first season in the arbitration process after playing for the Major League minimum of $490,000 last year as a midseason call up, but he agreed to a deal shortly before the tender deadline. Terms were not disclosed.

With the four tendered players, the Mariners begin the bargaining process that will either lead to contracts being signed or going to arbitration if no agreement can be reached.

Vargas and Ryan are both entering their third and final year of arbitration-eligibility and will be free agents next season. Vargas, coming off a career-high 14-win season, earned $4.85 million last year and the 29-year-old lefty figures to be in line for a significant raise.

Ryan, 30, will be an interesting case as he earned $1.75 million last year and hit just .194, but earned a Fielding Bible Award as the best defensive shortstop in baseball.

Kelley is in his second season of arbitration-eligibility after agreeing to a $600,000 deal last year as a Super Two qualifier. Jaso hits the arbitration process for the first time after making $495,000 in 2012.

Players who have been tendered contracts but have not yet come to an agreement with their club by Jan. 18 will exchange salary figures with the team at that time. If no deal is subsequently reached, an arbitration hearing will be scheduled in February. If a hearing is needed, an independent arbiter makes a binding decision on a one-year salary that is either the number submitted by the player or the team.

The Mariners haven’t had a player go all the way to a final binding arbitration hearing since Freddy Garcia in 2003.

Non-roster free agents part of the game as well

While most of the focus this time of year is on big-name free agents like Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton and the like, this is also the time of year when teams sign players to Minor League contracts with invites to Major League camps.

The Mariners haven’t made any announcements yet on such signings, but at least two players — catcher Jesus Sucre and right-handed reliever Jonathan Arias — have been inked to such deals with Seattle so far, according to Baseball America.

Both players were in the Mariners farm system last year and Sucre received a similar camp invite in 2012.

Like most MLB teams, the Mariners typically sign 15-20 players to such deals, which don’t count against the 40-man roster. It’s a great way to both flesh out the camp with extra bodies while also taking a look at guys.

Last year, Kevin Millwood and Munenori Kawasaki both made the club out of Spring Training as non-roster invitees who originally signed Minor League deals, while Oliver Perez and Josh Kinney were brought up in midseason.

Sucre, 24, provides a little backstop depth. He hit .271 in 90 games with Double-A Jackson last season and didn’t commit an error while throwing out 43.7 percent of attempted base stealers (32-for-72).

He originally signed with the Braves as a non-drafted free agent out of Venezuela in 2005, then joined the Mariners as a Minor League free agent on July 19, 2011.

Arias, 24, is a converted catcher and outfielder who didn’t start pitching until 2009. He split last season between Class-A High Desert and Jackson, going 5-7 with seven saves and a 4.21 ERA in 68 1/3 innings.

Arias had a 2.97 ERA and .165 batting average against in 22 outings for Jackson. He originally signed with the Mariners as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2006.

I’m sure the Mariners will have more Minor League signees with spring invites once the dust settles at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn. Typically, veteran free agents who aren’t getting big contract offers will look for teams that give them the best chance at landing playing time and a 25-man roster shot.

It’s a lower-level version of the free agency game, but a valuable one when it comes to filling out a roster. Teams can sometimes find diamonds in the rough, like Millwood last year or Adam Kennedy the year before in Seattle. So while all the talk focuses on the Hamilton’s and Zack Greinke’s of the MLB world next week, there’ll be lots of other players and their agents working the halls in Nashville as well.

Zduriencik talks about Winter Meetings’ plans

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik reiterated Thursday that he has some payroll flexibility as he heads to the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., next week, but he also noted that the team is in a “unique spot” with the number of quality young players knocking at the door in the organization.

My sense is the Mariners are looking to make several deals — either free-agent signings or trades — that would supplement the youth movement already underway. How much they can do depends, as always, on which veterans might be interested in coming to Seattle and how much opposing teams are looking for in trade returns.

They’re not going to jump in Miami Marlins’ style and try to win the winter. Josh Hamilton is not in the picture. But they will be aggressive in trying to add a veteran bat or two and perhaps a starting pitcher.

From a position standpoint, it would make the most sense to add a corner outfielder with some thump to fit into the middle of the lineup. But Zduriencik keeps talking about being flexible and open to adding the best help, wherever that might fall.

There’s a reason the Mariners have targeted Mike Napoli as a potential free agent signee. He’s the type of right-handed veteran hitter they covet, with the versatility to help both behind the plate and at first base.

I asked Zduriencik on Thursday about the catcher position, specifically, given that John Jaso and Jesus Montero are returning and Mike Zunino is on the horizon. Interestingly, he started talking about first baseman Justin Smoak in his answer, not in terms of catching,  but how pieces might all fit into the puzzle.

“Obviously Montero did a lot of DHing and took some ground balls at first last year,” he noted. “With Jaso and Montero and Smoak — and even Mike Carp — we’ve kind of got three positions for them with DH, first base and catcher.

“On given days, Montero can catch. Obviously everybody needs a break occasionally. As much as some people think Justin turned a corner last year, there’s a challenge there for him. We’d like for him to take September and add to that. But in regard to your original question, right now we’ve got two catchers, one left-handed and one right, and we’ll see where that goes.”

Where it goes will start to come into focus next week in Nashville. Zduriencik is flying to Tennesseee on Saturday and most of the Mariners brass will arrive Sunday. The Meetings will take place from Monday through Thursday.

Not all deals have to take place in Nashville, but the groundwork will be laid and action will pick up with everyone under one roof at the sprawling Gaylord Opryland Resort. Zduriencik said Wednesday’s signing of B.J. Upton by the Braves could have “a domino affect” on getting things rolling among free-agent outfielders.

Will those dominoes tip toward the Mariners? We shall see. I’ll be in Nashville to cover all the action, so you can follow me here on the blog as well as on or for the very latest on Twitter at @GregJohnsMLB.

Figgins released … and Cirillo on Hall of Fame ballot

Coincidence, certainly. But interesting nonetheless that the Mariners officially released Chone Figgins today — eight days after he was designated for assignment last Tuesday — on the same day that Jeff Cirillo’s name was placed on the 2013 National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.

The Figgins’ news was just a matter of time. Once a team DFA’s a player, they have 10 days to trade, release or designate him for assignment to the Minors. The Mariners weren’t going to send Figgins down, he had enough MLB service time to refuse such a move anyway.

And they’ve tried to trade him, but  nothing came of that for some time now as any team that wants him can merely wait until he’s released and then make him an offer. So the Figgins Era is over after three years in Seattle and he leaves with a nice parting gift …  the $8 million still owed on his 2013 contract.

By all measures, Figgins’ time in Seattle was a disaster as he hit .227 with a .585 OPS in three seasons after signing a four-year, $36 million deal in free agency. This from a guy coming off an All-Star season in Anaheim where he posted a .291 batting average and .751 OPS in eight previous season.

Which brings us to Cirillo. Certainly a lot of Mariners fans were stunned to see his name included among the first-time players on the Hall of Fame ballot, along with two other former Mariners in closer Jose Mesa and starter Aaron Sele.

But Cirillo was a very good player before he got to Seattle, a guy who hit .320 or higher in four of five seasons from 1996-2000 and owned a .310 career batting average when the Mariners signed him after eight years with the Brewers and two with the Rockies.

He turned out to be a right-hander who couldn’t solve Safeco Field, however, and hit just .234 in two seasons while earning $13 million and departing — much like Figgins — as a target of much fan derision.

Cirillo played short stints with a few other teams before retiring in 2007 with a career .296 average and two All-Star appearances to his name. No, he won’t get a lot of Hall of Fame votes, but it’s a pretty nice honor to be included on the ballot and a good reminder that while sometimes things just don’t work for guys in certain situations, it doesn’t mean they weren’t good ballplayers.

Here’s a good rundown on some of the first-time players on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot that won’t get a lot of votes, but had good careers.

Meanwhile, there is another ex-Mariner on the Hall of Fame ballot, of course, with Edgar Martinez getting his fourth shot. Edgar talked to my colleague Doug Miller and acknowledged – again — that he’s going to be patient and see how things play out.

Otherwise, we’re moving toward the Winter Meetings next week in Nashville, Tenn., where things figure to pick up on the free agent and trade fronts. I have a story today on one of last year’s breakout players, reliever Charlie Furbush, with Jack Zduriencik saying he expects Furbush to remain in the bullpen after his excellent 2012.

I found it interesting that Zduriencik told me a few days ago that he’s open to adding another starter this offseason. While all the talk has been about adding offense, Zduriencik isn’t ready to proclaim his rotation set at this point.

That makes sense, given there’s no need to rush young prospects to the Majors until they’re ready and the Mariners have always been able to attract quality pitching, in large part because of Safeco Field.

How the new fences affect things next year remains to be seen, just one of many questions to be answered in 2013.

Here is Mariners full spring schedule

Yup, it’s really only 78 days until Mariners pitchers and catchers report as the club announced its spring schedule on Monday.

Pitchers and catchers will report on Feb. 12, with the first workout set for Feb. 13. Position players are due by Feb. 15, with the first full-squad workout on Feb. 16.

The Mariners then open their Cactus League schedule on Feb. 22 against the Padres at Peoria Stadium in the earliest starting date in club history.

Because of the World Baseball Classic, camps open slightly earlier than normal. Players participating in the WBC will report to their Major League camps for physicals and early work before joining their country’s teams to compete in the international tournament in early March.

The Mariners reported to Peoria about the same time last year, on Feb. 11, a week earlier than other MLB teams because of their early regular-season start in Japan. But they didn’t play their first Cactus League game until March 2.

This spring’s 35-game schedule will include 20 games at Peoria Stadium, beginning with three straight contests against the Padres from Feb. 22-24 and then a home game against the Angels on Feb. 25 before the Mariners hit the road to face the Brewers in Maryvale on Feb. 26.

The spring schedule includes three night games in Peoria, beginning with a March 15 game against a World Baseball Classic team from the Asia qualifier. Night games will also be played March 19 against the defending World Series champion Giants and March 21 vs. the Cubs.

The Mariners close out Cactus League action on March 28 against the Cubs in Mesa, then play the Rockies on March 30 at Spring Mobile Park in Salt Lake City, Utah, in their final warm up before the regular-season opener April 1 at Oakland.

Seattle’s home opener at Safeco Field will be Monday, April 8 against the Astros, the new American League West addition, in a 7:10 p.m. contest.

Tickets for all Mariners games at Peoria Stadium are priced from $7 to $28 and will go on sale Saturday, Jan. 5 at 9 a.m. PT and can be purchased by phone (800-677-1227), online at or in person at the Peoria Sports Complex box office.

Here is the full spring schedule:

Friday, Feb. 22 San Diego Padres (Charity Game), Peoria, 1:05/12:05 PT
Saturday, Feb. 23 at San Diego Padres, Peoria, 1:05/12:05 PT
Sunday, Feb. 24 San Diego Padres, Peoria,1:05/12:05 PT
Monday, Feb. 25 Los Angeles Angels, Peoria, 1:05/12:05 PT
Tuesday, Feb. 26 at Milwaukee Brewers, Maryvale, 1:05/12:05 PT
Wednesday, Feb. 27 at Cleveland Indians, Goodyear, 1:05/12:05 PT
Thursday, Feb. 28 at San Francisco Giants, Scottsdale, 1:05/12:05 PT
Friday, March 1, Texas Rangers, Peoria, 1:05/12:05 PT
Saturday, March 2 Los Angeles Dodgers, Peoria, 1:05/12:05 PT
Sunday, March 3 at Texas Rangers, Surprise, 1:05/12:05 PT
Monday, March 4 Colorado Rockies, Peoria, 1:05/12:05 PT
Tuesday, March 5 OFF DAY
Wednesday, March 6 Milwaukee Brewers, Peoria, 1:05/12:05 PT
Thursday, March 7  at Kansas City Royals (ss), Surprise, 1:05/12:05 PT
Thursday, March 7 at Oakland Athletics (ss), Phoenix, 1:05/12:05 PT
Friday, March 8  Oakland Athletics, Peoria, 1:05/12:05 PT
Saturday, March 9 at Los Angeles Dodgers, Glendale, 1:05/12:05 PT
Sunday, March 10  Chicago White Sox, Peoria, 1:05 PT
Monday, March 11 OFF DAY
Tuesday, March 12 Arizona Diamondbacks, Peoria, 1:05 PT
Wednesday, March 13 at Kansas City Royals, Surprise, 1:05 PT
Thursday, March 14 Cincinnati Reds, Peoria, 1:05 PT
Friday, March 15  at Los Angeles Angels (ss), Tempe, 1:05 PT
Friday, March 15 WBC – Asia Pool team (SS), Peoria, 7:05 p.m. PT
Saturday, March 16 at Colorado Rockies,Scottsdale/Talking Stick, 1:05 PT
Sunday, March 17 Texas Rangers, Peoria, 1:05 PT
Monday, March 18 at Oakland Athletics, Phoenix, 1:05 PT
Tuesday, March 19 San Francisco Giants, Peoria,7:05 PT
Wednesday, March 20 OFF DAY
Thursday, March 21 Chicago Cubs, Peoria, 7:05 PT
Friday, March 22 at San Diego Padres, Peoria, 1:05 PT
Saturday, March 23 Cleveland Indians, Peoria, 1:05 PT
Sunday, March 24 at Arizona Diamondbacks, Scottsdale/Talking Stick, 1:05 PT
Monday, March 25 at Cincinnati Reds, Goodyear, 1:05 PT
Tuesday, March 26 Kansas City Royals, Peoria, 1:05 PT
Wednesday, March 27 Los Angeles Dodgers, Peoria, 1:05 PT
Thursday, March 28 at Chicago Cubs, Mesa, 1:05 PT
Friday, March 29 OFF DAY
Saturday, March 30 at Colorado Rockies, Salt Lake City, 1:05 PT
Sunday, March 31, Workout, Oakland, TBA
Monday, April 1  2012 Season Opener, Oakland, TBA

Figgins released with $8M still on contract

With one season and $8 million still remaining on his four-year contract, the Mariners cut ties with Chone Figgins on Tuesday as the veteran infielder was designated for assignment as part of a series of roster moves.

Figgins, 34, hit just .181 in 66 games last season and had become a lightning rod for fans unhappy with the team’s offensive struggles over the past few years.

“These decisions are driven by what a player does on the the field and when you get to the point he may no longer be part of this club going forward , you have to make decisions,” said general manager Jack Zduriencik. “He just became an expendable piece and that’s just it. That’s the end of the story.”

Zduriencik said he spoke with Figgins earlier in the evening and “wished him the best” in finding a new team.

“He was very gracious,” Zduriencik said. “Unfortunately it didn’t work out the way he thought or we thought, but it’s time to turn the page and move forward.”

The Mariners also designated outfielder Scott Cousins for assignment, just two weeks week after claiming him off waivers from the Blue Jays.

The Mariners also selected five Minor Leaguers to their Major League roster – adding infielder Vinnie Catricala, outfielder Julio Morban and pitchers Anthony Fernandez, Bobby LaFromboise and Brandon Maurer — as they finalized their 40-man roster prior to Tuesday night’s deadline to protect players from next month’s Rule 5 Draft.

Seattle’s roster was at 37 players prior to the moves, so the club dropped Figgins and Cousins and added the five young prospects to reach the 40-man limit. They’ll need to make further moves to create roster space if they add any players in free agency, trades or the Rule 5 draft.

By designating Figgins for assignment, the team now has 10 days to trade, release or outright the veteran before he becomes a free agent. If he clears waivers and is not traded, he will be released, Zduriecik said.

The Mariners still are responsible for the final year on the $36 million deal Figgins signed as a free agent in 2010. There also is a $9 million vesting option for 2015 that would kick in with 600 plate appearances this coming season, but that option will be voided if he’s released.

Zduriencik said he has tried unsuccessfully to find a trading partner for Figgins, but that most GMs can “read the tea leaves” and see that he was likely going to be released.

As for why Figgins never worked out in Seattle?

“It’s hard to say,” Zduriencik said. “Anybody’s guess would be as good as mine. At the time of the signing, it looked like the right thing for allof us. He ws excited about coming here and we thought it would be an interesting dimension with he and Ichiro. But it just never worked out and sometimes you have to make a deicison and move on and we did that today.”

Mariners acquire infielder Andino from Orioles

Jack Zduriencik pulled off his first trade of the winter on Tuesday, sending Trayvon Robinson to the Orioles in exchange for veteran utility infielder Robert Andino.

This one isn’t a blockbuster, but it is a move that adds needed depth in the infield for Seattle in exchange for a youngster who very likely was going to get lost in the outfield mix, presuming the Mariners add a veteran corner outfielder in free agency or trade.

Robinson is out of Minor League options, so he was either going to have to make Seattle’s 25-man roster next spring or be exposed to waivers if he was sent down. Casper Wells and Mike Carp are in the same situation, so the Mariners are looking at a number’s game there with Michael Saunders and Franklin Gutierrez also returning and the team also hoping to add a bigger bat if possible.

Robinson had a hunch something might happen this offseason, though he still sounded a bit surprised shortly after the deal went down.

“I knew it’d be something a little different because I am out of options,” Robinson said. “The Mariners knew the type of player I am in their organization, but I guess this is a better fit for me going to the Orioles. Everything happens for a reason, I’m a true believer in that. I’d like to thank the Mariners moreso for the opportunity to play in the Majors.

“I’ll just have to start over and make new friends. But I’m not going to forget the guys I shared those first moments with in Anaheim in 2011 [when he made his Major league debut].”

Andino started at second base much of the last two seasons in Baltimore for the oft-injured Brian Roberts, but is a good glove man who can also play shortstop. He’ll certainly be a quality upgrade over Munenori Kawasaki as a utility infielder and, who knows, maybe he’ll challenge Brendan Ryan for the starting shortstop job if Ryan doesn’t come back stronger offensively.

“The addition of Robert Andino gives us some experienced infield depth with a player who has played multiple positions,” said Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik. “With Robert having Major League and playoff experience and still relatively young, we thought that it made sense to make this trade and let him come in and compete.”

Andino, 28, is a career .235 hitter in parts of eight seasons with the Marlins and Orioles. He earned $1.3 million last year in his first season of arbitration eligibility. Unless he signs a longer-term deal, he’ll have two seasons of arbitration eligibility with the Mariners before becoming a free agent in 2015. He also is out of Minor League options.

Robinson, 25, hit .215 with five home runs and 26 RBIs in 90 games over the past two years for Seattle while earning the MLB minimum of $480,000 as a mid-season addition in 2012. He figures his style of play will fit in with the Orioles.

“When we played against them, I felt they had a pretty good, energetic team,” he said. “For me, it’s a good fit. The way I play the game, I hustle, run into things and try to beat the opponent any way I can. The way they played against us, they didn’t quit. I don’t quit either. We’ll see what happens. I have a good feeling it’s going to be a good year again.”

Andino played a career-best 139 games and hit .263 with five home runs and 36 RBIs in 2011, then fell to .211 with seven homers and 28 RBIs in 127 games this past season, with 99 of those games coming at second base.

While this isn’t a mega-deal, it is a move that should make the Mariners better by adding a veteran in a place of need in exchange for a younger prospect from a position of depth, similar to the John Jaso trade last year for Josh Lueke.

The Mariners remain at 37 players on the 40-man roster, with a few moves expected later today prior to the 9 p.m. PT deadline to set rosters prior to the Rule 5 draft.

Zunino shines in AFL championship win

Mike Zunino, the Mariners first-round Draft pick last June, wrapped up a nice Arizona Fall League season with a 3-for-5 game with two RBIs as Peoria beat Salt River 4-3 in Saturday’s AFL title game in Phoenix.

Zunino had run-scoring singles in both the first and second innings to get his team off to a quick 3-0 lead. He also singled sharply to left in the sixth and played the whole game at catcher, making the tag on a play at the plate in the bottom of the eighth to preserve Peoria’s one-run lead.

Nick Franklin, who has played second base most of the AFL season, went 0-for-5 with a pair of double-play grounders while batting cleanup for Peoria. Franklin did push home Peoria’s second run in the first inning with a double-play bouncer back to the mound.

Combined with his AFL regular-season, Zunino finished his fall season batting .306 with two home runs and 17 RBIs in 20 games. Franklin’s fall average dropped to .317 with his hitless outing, with two homers and 22 RBIs in 21 games.

Zunino and Franklin were the two Mariners prospects who started for Peoria. Carson Smith, a reliever who pitched Class A  ball last year, pitched a scoreless fourth inning with two strikeouts. He allowed a hit and walked a batter.

James Paxton, the other prominent Mariners prospect on the Peoria squad, didn’t pitch in the game as he was shut down last week after reaching his innings limit for the fall season.

There are lots of questions about how soon Zunino and Franklin will be ready to play for Seattle. analyst Jonathan Mayo said during Saturday’s broadcast on the MLB Network that Zunino might have a chance to break camp next spring as the Mariners starting catcher.

That would surprise me, frankly. Zunino has impressed everywhere he’s been so far, but he played just 15 games of Double-A ball last year for Jackson after a strong showing at low-A Everett.

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik has been pretty consistent about saying anything can happen, but that it would be difficult for Zunino to make the jump to the Majors with that little Minor League experience.

Zunino will be invited to the Mariners big-league camp in the spring, though, and will get a good look. So we’ll see.

The same holds with Franklin. Though he’s had more Minor League time under his belt as a first-round Draft pick out of high school in 2009, he was still adjusting to Triple-A pitching last summer when he hit .243 in 64 games for Tacoma.

Both those guys look to be prominent parts of the Mariners future and my guess would be that we’ll see each of them at some point in 2013. I’d just be surprised if either breaks camp immediately with the big club out of Spring Training.

At this point in their career, playing every day in Triple-A would be more valuable than filling a bench role in the Majors. So unless they play so well in spring that a starting job with the Mariners is inevitable, look for both to open the year with the Rainiers and then get their shots midway through the year or in September, depending on how the season plays out.

Below is video of Zunino’s second hit in today’s game, and you can also read Mayo’s story on that includes some quotes from the young catcher following the game.

Mariners installing biggest video board in MLB

The Mariners are going big in 2013, at least on the Safeco Field scoreboard, as the club announced Thursday that it has begun installation of a new video board that will be the largest in any MLB park.

How big? We’re talking an 11,425-square foot video screen — just slightly smaller than the monster screen at Cowboys Stadium that is the largest in the NFL.

The new board will fill the exact same space as the old scoreboard set-up atop the center field bleachers that has been in place since Safeco opened in 1999. But the difference is, the old scoreboard was divided into a bunch of sections and only a part of it could be used as a video screen.

The new board is potentially all one gigantic big screen. It also can be divided into sections to display lineups, statistics and advertising at different times. But when warranted, the entire board will convert into one giant video screen for replays or fan shots or whatever the scoreboard operators choose.

Above is an artist’s rendering of what the full screen will look like. Here is what it can look like when divided into smaller sections.

“Northwest sports fans have never seen anything like this,” said Kevin Martinez, Mariners vice president of marketing.

The scoreboard is part of the first major Safeco Field renovations since the park opened in 1999. The club is also moving in the outfield fences from 4-17 feet at various points to help increase scoring in the notoriously pitching-friendly facility.

Some other improvements will be announced later this offseason and the total projects are expected to cost the Mariners about $15 million. And since the question is always raised, no, this isn’t money out of the Mariners player payroll. The club has already said it intends to increase its player payroll budget from the $91 million it started out at last season.

The video board will be 201-feet wide and 57-feet high, or 11,425 square feet total. The largest current video screen at an MLB park is the 8,820-square foot board at Kansas City’s Kaufman Stadium, which measures 84-feet by 105-feet.

I’ve been at Kaufman Stadium and their board is huge, looming over center field, and is quite a sight. So this should be pretty cool for Mariners fans.

My full story with more details is now up on

Mariners add Cousins to their outfield mix

Scott Cousins, an outfielder best known as the player who broke Buster Posey’s leg with a home-plate slide in 2011, has been claimed off waivers by the Mariners, the club announced Tuesday.

Cousins, 27, was property of the Blue Jays for two weeks this offseason after Toronto claimed him off waivers from the Marlins on Oct. 17. But the Blue Jays designated him for assignment on Oct. 31 and the Mariners will now give him a look.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder joins the outfield competition with Mariners returners Michael Saunders, Franklin  Gutierrez, Casper Wells, Eric Thames, Mike Carp, Trayvon Robinson and Carlos Peguero.

It’s hard seeing where Cousins might fit into that  mix, but he does have one Minor League option remaining, while Carp, Robinson and Wells are out of options. Cousins is a versatile outfielder with good speed who was ranked No. 9 on the Marlins top prospect list by Baseball America going into last season.

Cousins split last season between the Marlins and their Triple-A New Orleans club. He hit .163 in 53 games with the Marlins with four doubles, a triple, a home run and three RBIs in 86 at-bats while playing all three outfield positions.

Cousins hit .296 in 61 games for New Orleans with seven home runs, 36 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. In three seasons with the Marlins, he batted .183 with a .231 on-base percentage and .291 slugging percentage over 128 games.

Cousins himself was hampered much of 2011 by back injuries unrelated to the Posey collision and he played only 55 games that season. But he was healthy last season and got promoted to the Marlins in mid-June to fill a backup outfielder role.

The addition of Cousins put the Mariners’ 40-man roster at 37 players.

Here’s a good story on him from the New York Times last year talking about dealing with the aftermath of the Posey situation.