Gutierrez agrees on 1-year deal, pending physical

GutiCageThe Mariners are bringing back a familiar face as a baseball source has confirmed that free-agent outfielder Franklin Gutierrez has agreed to a one-year deal, pending completion of a physical exam on Wednesday.

The Mariners haven’t confirmed the deal, but ESPN Deportes is reporting the contract has a $1 million base salary, with the potential of an additional $2 million in incentives. Gutierrez is in Seattle and is expected to meet with reporters once everything is finalized.

This is an interesting move, given the low-risk nature of the contract. Obviously nobody knows better than the Mariners and their fans what a challenge it has been for Gutierrez to stay healthy. But given the need for a right-handed bat and a quality defender, Jack Zduriencik obviously feels the upside of a potentially healthy Guti is worth another shot.

The only real gamble, given the low price of the contract, is giving up a 40-man roster spot once again to a player that couldn’t be counted on the past three years. And if Gutierrez does look good this spring, the club will once again face a decision on whether to put him on the 25-man roster at the expense of another outfielder and then hold its breath and see if he stays healthy.

But that decision is down the line, so we’ll see how he’s doing now and in the spring.

Gutierrez, 30, played the past five seasons for Seattle and was an American League Gold Glove winner in 2010, but missed 313 of the team’s 486 games over the past three years due to his host of health issues.

The Mariners declined a $7 million club option last month on a contract that originally paid Gutierrez about $19 million over the previous four years, so he is taking a big paycut and obviously would love to prove to teams he’s capable of staying healthy and productive again.

Gutierrez hit .248 with 10 home runs and 24 RBIs in 41 games last year, but spent most of the season on the disabled list or in Triple-A Tacoma due to hamstring problems.

He played just 40 games in 2012 as well due to two DL stints with a torn pectoral muscle and a concussion and was limited to 92 games in 2011 after missing time with a stomach disorder and then a strained oblique.

Gutierrez was diagnosed with an inflammatory condition called ankylosing spondylitis last year and is hopeful that medication will allow him to deal with the hip and joint issues that have hindered him.  When healthy, the Venezuela native is regarded as one of the American League’s premier defenders and the Mariners could use his right-handed bat in their lefty-heavy lineup. He hit .283 with 18 homers, 70 RBIs and 18 stolen bases in 2009 in his first year after being acquired by trade from the Indians.

The club just signed free agent Corey Hart and traded for Logan Morrison, who are both capable of playing the outfield, but both are returning from knee issues of their own. <p> The Mariners only returning outfielders currently are Michael Saunders, converted second baseman Dustin Ackley and September callup Abraham Almonte.

3 Comments

He should be the designated hitter.

I can see him Platoon in CF/DH in order to keep his RHB in the lineup. Interestingly, he hit 10 HRs in only 151 PA’s last season. If we can actually get 600 PAs from him in 2014 he could put up 30-40 HRs. We can’t count on 600 PAs, due to his history, but playing 50/50 at DH could help him get to those levels.

Probably worth mentioning that one of his injuries was due to being beaned in the head while he was a base runner. That one wasn’t his fault but, rather, a cause of being in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Just saying…

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