Cishek agrees to two-year deal
Jerry Dipoto’s makeover of the Mariners continued Saturday as sources confirmed the club has an agreement in place with right-handed reliever Steve Cishek on a two-year contract.
The club has not confirmed the deal, which will pay a base salary of $10 million, with potential incentives of another $7 million, according to Yahoo.com. The agreement was first reported by ESPN.com.
Dipoto closed out a busy Winter Meetings in Nashville on Thursday by saying his remaining move would be to add a free agent reliever or two and Cishek provides a potential closer to the mix.
The 29-year-old fits into Dipoto’s theme of scooping up potential bounceback candidates who can fill large roles for his revamped roster. The side-winding righty saved 73 games for the Marlins in 2013-14, then struggled and lost his job last season (three saves and a 4.50 ERA) and was traded to the Cardinals in July.
He pitched better for St. Louis with a 2.31 ERA and one save in 27 games, but was non-tendered after the season as the Cardinals chose to avoid an arbitration process that would have earned Ciskek about $7.1 million in 2016 according to MLBtraderumors.com’s projections.
Cishek figures to compete with Joaquin Benoit for closing duties. Benoit, 38, was acquired by trade from the Padres last month and has been primarily a set-up man in his career, though he did save 24 games in 2013 with the Tigers and 11 with the Padres in ’14.
Cishek has a 2.82 career ERA and 95 saves in 311 relief appearances in six seasons with the Marlins and Cardinals.
The Mariners used three different closers last year – Fernando Rodney, Carson Smith and Tom Wilhelmsen – but Rodney was released in midseason and Smith and Wilhelmsen have both been traded this winter.
In addition to Chisek and Benoit, the club returns left-handed set-up man Charlie Furbush and has added right-handers Anthony Bass and Evan Scribner in trades and Justin De Fratus in free agency. Hard-throwing September callup Tony Zych and lefty swingman Vidal Nuno figure to be in the bullpen mix next year as well.
Dipoto has made nine trades, signed four Major League free agents – catcher Chris Iannetta, outfielder Nori Aoki, De Fratus and Cishek — and re-signed free agent outfielder Franklin Gutierrez since Nov. 4.