Kelly Shoppach signs, while Shawn Kelley DFA’d
While much of the Mariners buzz today centers around the report that Felix Hernandez is close to a contract extension, the club finalized some other news as free agent catcher Kelly Shoppach officially signed a one-year contract and designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
Shoppach, who played four years for manager Eric Wedge during his Cleveland days, gives the Mariners some needed depth behind the plate. The 32-year-old has been expected to sign since taking a physical last week.
The bigger surprise is Kelley’s removal from the 40-man roster as he just signed a one-year, $935,000 contract last week to avoid an arbitration hearing. Kelley, 28, was 2-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 47 appearances last season and has been with the club since being drafted in the 13th round in 2007.
The Mariners now have 10 days to trade or release Kelley, who has enough service time to refuse an option to the Minor Leagues. If a team claims Kelley, they will pay his full salary. If he is released, the Mariners would owe him one-sixth of his salary, or just under $156,000.
The right-hander has pitched in 120 games for Seattle over parts of the past four seasons.
Shoppach has played with the Red Sox, Indians, Rays, Red Sox and Mets during his eight years in the Majors, posting a .226 batting average with 67 home runs and 207 RBIs in 536 games.
The right-handed hitting backstop split last year between the Red Sox and Mets, hitting .250 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 158 at-bats with Boston before being traded in mid-August. He batted .203 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in 28 games with the Mets.
Shoppach gives the Mariners an experienced presence behind the plate to go with Jesus Montero after the club traded John Jaso to the A’s last month in a three-way deal that brought slugger Michael Morse from the Nationals.
Montero was named Wednesday in a New York Daily News report as one of the players whose names were found in records at an anti-aging clinic in Miami that is being investigated for allegedly dispensing performance-enhancing substances. But the club had already been in the process of signing Shoppach, with general manager Jack Zduriencik indicating last month that he intended to add two experienced catchers to the mix before camp opened.
Ronny Paulino, another eight-year MLB veteran, signed a Minor League deal with an invitation to Major League camp two weeks ago and will also compete for a position in Spring Training.
The Mariners have also invited youngsters Mike Zunino, John Hicks and Jesus Sucre to their Major League camp, which starts Tuesday with pitchers and catchers reporting to Peoria, Ariz.