The Mariners added three of their top Minor League prospects – reliever Mayckol Guaipe, catcher John Hicks and infielder Ketel Marte — to their 40-man roster on Thursday to protect them from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.
Players who signed their first professional contract at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons.
Like all clubs, the Mariners moved to protect eligible prospects they felt might be coveted by other teams prior to Thursday’s 9 p.m. PT deadline. The Rule 5 Draft will be held Dec. 11 on the final day of the Winter Meetings in San Diego.
With the Mariners also claiming left-hander Edgar Olmos off waivers from the Marlins on Thursday, their 40-man roster now stands at 39. Here is the current 40-man roster.
Guaipe, 24, was 1-3 with 12 saves and a 2.89 ERA in 40 appearances for Double-A Jackson last season. He had 56 strikeouts in 56 innings and posted the lowest WHIP (0.964) among Mariners full-season Minor Leaguers. Guaipe is having a strong showing in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason as well.
Hicks, 25, split last season between Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma, batting .290 with five home runs and 47 RBIs in 81 games. The young catcher has thrown out 47.6 percent of attempted base-stealers during his four Minor League seasons. The former Virginia standout hit .304 in 13 games with Surprise in the Arizona Fall League that wrapped up last week.
Marte, 21, hit .304 with 79 runs, 32 doubles, six triples, four home runs, 29 stolen bases and 55 RBIs in 128 games with Jackson and Tacoma. He was a Southern League All-Star while batting .302 in 109 games with Jackson before being promoted to Tacoma on Aug. 10.
As one of the youngest players in the Pacific Coast League, Marte batted .313 in 19 games with Tacoma.
Among the Rule 5 eligible players not protected by the Mariners were outfielder Jabari Blash, first baseman/outfielder Jordy Lara and pitchers Stephen Landazuri and Jordan Pries.
Olmos, 24, went 3-3 with three saves and a 4.06 ERA in 51 appearances while splitting last season between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans. Opponents hit .248 against the 6-foot-4 southpaw and he totaled 60 strikeouts and 30 walks in 77 2/3 innings.
He has one Minor League option remaining.
Olmos just finished up in the Arizona Fall League, where he went 1-1 with a 7.36 ERA in 11 innings over nine games with the Salt River Rafters.
Olmos pitched five games in the Majors with the Marlins in 2013, posting an 0-1 record and 7.20 ERA in five innings. He was drafted by the Marlins in the third round in 2008 out of Birmingham High School in Los Angeles and began his career as a starter. In seven Minor League seasons, he’s 15-37 with a 4.50 ERA in 179 games, including 71 starts.
The addition of Olmos puts the Mariners 40-man roster at 36, with more roster moves likely before Thursday’s 9 p.m. PT deadline to protect players from being exposed to the Rule 5 Draft.
The Mariners’ Refuse to Abuse campaign against domestic violence has earned the franchise its first Commissioner Award for Philanthropic Excellence, a prestigious honor that was announced Thursday at the Major League Baseball Owners Meetings in Kansas City.
The CAPE Award was started by Commissioner Bud Selig in 2010 to recognize extraordinary charitable and philanthropic efforts by MLB clubs. Previous winners were the Red Sox in 2010, White Sox in 2011, Blue Jays in 2012 and Tigers in 2013.
The Mariners received the 2014 award for their public service campaign against domestic violence, which last year featured ace pitcher Felix Hernandez, outfielder Michael Saunders and manager Lloyd McClendon in television, radio and print advertisements.
Mariners Care will receive a $10,000 grant from Major League Baseball Charities as part of the recognition.
“I am very proud of the Seattle Mariners and Mariners Care for taking a leading role in educating fans and other members of their community on the importance of respectful relationships,” Selig said. “This is a vital societal issue that impacts the lives of individuals and families in harrowing ways.
“Having communicated with many experts, we continue to work diligently toward a comprehensive policy that reflects the gravity of domestic violence and how to best serve the interests of victims and their families,” said Selig. “The efforts of the Mariners, who encourage fans to take a public stance against domestic violence, are exemplary. I thank the Mariners and all of our clubs for their year-round efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”
The Refuse to Abuse program was first implemented in 1997 as a spinoff of the popular “Refuse to Lose” motto of the 1995 club. Working with the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the club began promoting an educational campaign conveying the need for respect at home as well as on the field.
“When we were approached by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence with an opportunity to support this difficult and serious issue, we recognized it as a unique way to use our brand to send the message that domestic violence is not okay,” said Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln. “It is a great honor to be recognized by Commissioner Selig for the work we have done over the years with our partners at the Coalition.”
For the last three years, the Coalition and Mariners have sponsored a 5K run/walk at Safeco Field to raise money for the Coalition’s prevention work and allow fans to join the effort to end domestic violence. The Refuse to Abuse 5K, which takes place in and around Safeco Field, encourages participants to start conversations about healthy relationships, and gives them concrete tools to do so.
The Refuse To Abuse campaign ads reach millions of Mariners fans each year and more than 1,300 people attended the 5K run/walk in July. The 5K has raised more than $200,000 for the Coalition over the last three years.
“Pat has a great deal of experience, as a Major League player and as a Minor League coach and manager,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “We are looking forward to having him work with our young players.”
Listach, 47, played with the Brewers and Astros from 1992-97 and was the American League Rookie of the Year for Milwaukee in ’92 when he hit .290 and stole 54 bases. He wound up batting .251 in 503 career games and was in camp with the Mariners in Spring Training of ’98, but was released and finished that year in the Minors before retiring.
The Louisiana native went into coaching in 2000 in the Cubs Minor League system and was Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year in 2008 with Triple-A Iowa afer an 83-59 season, then hired on as the Nationals third base coach from 2009-10. He has a career Minor League managerial mark of 256-217 (.541).
Listach was bench coach for the Cubs in 2011 and their third base coach in ’12, became a Minor League infield coordinator with the Dodgers in ’13 and then worked last year as the Astros infield coach and third base coach under Bo Porter in his hometown of Houston.
“Pat is passionate about teaching, and has a great track record and experience, both as a player and as a coach,” Mariners Director of Player Development Chris Gwynn said. “He’s a very good fit for our organization, and for the Rainiers.”
Roy Howell filled in as Tacoma’s manager last year when he was promoted from Double-A Jackson’s hitting coach just prior to the start of the season. Rich Donnelly originally was slated to manage the Rainiers last year, but he joined the Mariners during Spring Training as third base coach after John Stearns was forced to step down due to health issues. Donnelly is expected to remain in that position in 2015 as Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon has indicated his entire staff is returning.
Howell, who led the Rainiers to a 74-70 record, will remain in the Mariners organization, likely returning to Jackson’s staff as hitting instructor.
Misael Siverio, a 25-year-old left-hander from Cuba, has signed a Minor League deal with the Mariners.
Siverio pitched last season in Mexico after defecting from Cuba, taking something of a similar path to Roenis Elias, who had a breakout season for the Mariners last year as a 25-year-old rookie southpaw following three seasons in Seattle’s Minor League system after going from Cuba to Mexico.
“This is a proud moment for me, to be able to join the Seattle Mariners, who have various Cubans in the organization that are my compatriots,” Siverio said in a statement on the team’s blog, which also includes photos and a video. “I feel very happy because of the way that I have been treated here in Seattle and now the only thing left to do is to do my part, work hard and reach the Major Leagues.”
Siverio took a physical exam with the Mariners in Seattle earlier this month and toured the team’s facilities. He will take part in the Mariners’ Minor League mini-camp in Peoria, Ariz., in mid-February, which is designed for prospects who aren’t part of the Major League camp.
The 5-foot-9 Siverio pitched 153 games (75 starts) with a 3.24 ERA from 2007-12 with Villa Clara in Cuba’s National Series, the country’s primary amateur league, then had a 2.45 ERA for Aguilas de Mexicali in the Mexican Pacific League last winter with a 3-1 record, 36 strikeouts and 10 walks in 29 1/3 innings over six starts.
Siverio defected from the Cuban National team in 2013 when the squad was in the United States playing against a college All-Star team in Des Moines, Iowa.
Siverio pitched in front of scouts for about 10 Major League teams at a showcase tryout in June and is one of several Cuban players who’ve drawn interest this offseason.
The biggest name among the Cuban prospects is outfielder Yasmany Tomas, who is drawing high interest from a number of clubs, including the Mariners.
Not a great morning for the Major League Baseball team in Tokyo on Saturday as Robinson Cano broke his toe on a pitch off his right foot and the MLB club wound up getting no hit by four Japanese pitchers in a 4-0 loss in the third game of the Japan series.
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik has confirmed the initial report out of Tokyo by MLB.com reporter Anthony DiComo that x-rays showed Cano’s right pinkie toe was fractured and the six-time All-Star will be sidelined from baseball activities for 3-4 weeks.
The Mariners say Cano will resume full workouts in mid-December and should have no issues with being ready for the start of Spring Training, with Mariners position players due to report to Peoria, Ariz. on Feb. 24.
The injury will not require a cast or treatment, just rest. Mariners trainer Rick Griffin has talked with Cano, who reported no pain.
Cano will miss the rest of the Japan Series, which the MLB team now trails 3-0 with two series games, plus an exhibition, still remaining. Cano went 2-for-10 in three games in Japan.
“It’s part of the game, getting hurt,” Cano told DiComo before leaving the Tokyo Dome and learning of his fracture. “I’ll be fine.”
Cano is one of two Mariners competing against a Japanese All-Star team. Hisashi Iwakuma pitched the second game of the series on Friday and gave up 10 hits and five runs in four innings.
Here’s video of the pitch that injured Cano.
Robinson Cano finished fifth in the American League MVP voting announced Thursday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, the top finish by a Mariners player since Ichiro Suzuki won the award in 2001.
Seattle ace Felix Hernandez was 10th in the balloting, the highest MVP finish of his career. Hernandez finished one spot ahead of Indians right-hander Corey Kluber, who edged him for the AL Cy Young Award on Wednesday.
Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager got one 10th place vote in the balloting to finish 20th. Two baseball writers in each AL city – 30 overall – vote for 10 finalists for the award, which was won by Angels center fielder Mike Trout.
Trout was the unanimous first-place winner on all 30 ballots, with Detroit designated hitter Victor Martinez finishing second, following by Indians outfielder Michael Brantley, White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu and Cano. Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays initially was listed ahead of Cano, but the BBWAA later corrected the voting totals and flip-flopped those two. Here’s the full breakdown on the voting.
Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers became the first pitcher to win the National League MVP in 46 years when he beat out Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton for that honor.
The Mariners had previously had only four Top 10 MVP finishers in the 12 seasons since Ichiro won the award in 2001 and three of those went to Ichiro, who finished ninth in 2009, eighth in 2007 and seventh in 2004. Bret Boone was 10th in 2003.
Cano has never won an MVP award, but he’s now finished in the top six in AL voting for five straight years. The 30-year-old second baseman finished third in 2010, sixth in 2011, fourth in 2012 and fifth in 2013 while with the Yankees.
Cano received one second-place vote, from ESPN.com’s Tim Kurkjian, and was named somewhere in the top 10 on 23 of the 30 ballots.
After signing a 10-year, $240 million deal with Seattle, Cano put up a .314/.382/.454 line with 37 doubles, 14 home runs and 82 RBIs while batting third for a Mariners team that improved by 16 wins to 87-75 in 2014. Cano also was a top-three finalist for the Rawlings Gold Glove at second base.
Hernandez narrowly missed winning his second AL Cy Young, finishing just behind Kluber in the balloting after going 15-6 with an AL-leading 2.14 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. While pitchers often don’t fare well among some MVP voters, Hernandez was named second on two ballots – by Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and David Brown of Yahoo Sports — and was listed somewhere in the Top 10 by nine of the 30 writers.
Seager had a breakout season, landing his first AL All-Star berth and Gold Glove Award while leading the Mariners with 25 home runs and 96 RBIs. His one 10th place vote came courtesy of Paul White of USA Today.
After putting together what he called the best season of his 10-year career, Mariners ace Felix Hernandez vowed to be even better next year after finishing second to Indians right-hander Corey Kluber on Wednesday when the American League Cy Young Award was handed out by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Kluber was a narrow winner as he was named first on 17 of the 30 ballots, second on 11 and third on two, for 169 points. Hernandez earned 13 first-place votes and 17 second-place votes, putting him 10 points back on the scoring system based on 7-4-3-2-1 points for the five pitchers put on each writer’s ballot.
Here’s the full voting breakdown.
“I don’t know what to say,” Hernandez said. “That was tough. It’s a little disappointing, but it just gives me more motivation to work harder and harder and be ready for next year.”
Kluber went 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA and led the AL with 269 strikeouts in a breakout year for the Indians. White Sox southpaw Chris Sale also had a strong season and finished third, but it was Kluber who took home the trophy as the first Indians winner since Cliff Lee in 2009.
“He beat me in Cleveland. He had a great year,” Hernandez said. “Sale, Kluber, myself, we all deserve this award. But there’s only one winner and it was Kluber.”
Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers was a unanimous winner of the NL Cy Young Award, the third time he’s won.
Hernandez, 28, won the AL Cy Young Award in 2010 and was second in ’09, fourth in ’12 and eighth in ’13. The only other Seattle pitcher to win the prestigious award was Randy Johnson in 1995.
While finishing second was a tough pill to swallow, Hernandez said there are bigger things ahead for him and the Mariners, who finished one victory shy of tying for the final AL Wild Card spot at 87-75.
“[The Cy Young] means a lot,” he said. “But my goal is just to win the whole thing with this team right here, the Seattle Mariners. They deserve it, the fans deserve it. Individual stuff doesn’t matter, this is a team sport.”
Hernandez went 15-6 while leading the AL in ERA at 2.14 and WHIP at 0.915. He also set a career best in strikeouts, with 248 in 236 innings.
“It was a great year for everybody, my teammates, my coaching staff, they did a great job,” he said. “But next year we’re going to be better. It was a great year, we got close, but we didn’t make the playoffs. Next year will be better.”
As for his own game?
“I can work harder and harder and harder,” Hernandez said. “Every day you learn something else. We’ll see what’s going to happen next year.”
Hernandez’s WHIP was the second-lowest mark by an AL pitcher since 1973, and his ERA was the lowest in the AL since 2000. His win-loss record could have been far better with some more-consistent run support, as he put up a 1.88 ERA in 13 no-decisions.
The Mariners’ ace felt he pitched “way better” in 2014 than in his first Cy Young Award-winning season, and the numbers bore that out. But Kluber’s season was deemed to be even better, with some possibly swayed by a critical loss by Hernandez in Toronto on Seattle’s final road trip when he gave up eight runs (four earned) in 4 2/3 innings at a time when voters were making up their minds on the close competition.
“I don’t know. Probably,” Hernandez said when asked if that loss made a difference. “It was just one start. So what can I say?”
Hernandez’s statistics were stellar across the board, as he also finished first in the AL in opponents’ batting average (.200), tied for first in starts (34), second in innings and opponents’ slugging percentage (.303) and OPS (.546), fourth in strikeouts and fifth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.39).
The right-hander set a Major League record with 16 consecutive starts allowing two or fewer runs in at least seven innings pitched from May 18-Aug. 11, breaking the old record of 13 straight starts by Tom Seaver in 1971. He led the Majors with 23 such “ultra-quality” starts, with Kluber second in the AL at 19.
Hernandez had already been named the AL’s Outstanding Pitcher by the Sporting News and the AL’s Outstanding Pitcher in the Players Choice Awards. He also was a finalist for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award and was Seattle’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award.
Not adding the Cy Young to that collection hurt, without question.
“A little bit as an individual,” he said. “But I’m going to prepare myself for next year, I’ll prepare harder, I’m going to be in better shape than this year and we’ll see what happens. I can’t wait for next. Next year is going to be a great year for the Seattle Mariners.”
Hisashi Iwakuma has been tabbed to start the second game of the Japan Series on Friday in the Tokyo Dome, with the Mariners right-hander throwing for the MLB squad against a Japanese All-Star team from Nippon Professional Baseball.
Iwakuma and Robinson Cano are the two Mariners on the 29-man MLB squad, which will play two exhibition games in Japan – the first on Tuesday and the last on Thursday, Nov. 20 – sandwiched around a five-game series against Japan’s All-Stars.
Iwakuma told reporters in Japan that he’s excited to be playing against his country mates.
“This is the very first [Japan All-Star Series] in eight years, and I’m participating in this event as a representative of Major League Baseball, so I feel very honored,” Iwakuma said through an interpreter. “I was really looking forward to coming back here as an American representative, so I’m very happy for that.”
It’s a bit challenging for pitchers to stay geared up over the offseason, which is why there are 14 hurlers on the MLB squad and specific rules to keep them from being overused. Pitchers will not be allowed to throw more than 80 pitches in any game, though they are allowed to finish at at-bat if it starts below the 80 mark.
If a pitcher throws more than 30 pitches in any one outing or appears in two consecutive games, he must have a day of rest before pitching again, though that rule does not apply for either of the exhibition games.
The games will be televised live on MLB Network at 6 p.m. Japanese time, which is 1 a.m. PT. The five official Japan Series games will also be replayed on tape delay at 6 p.m. PT on the MLB Network, or are available on demand to MLB.TV subscribers.
MLB.com writer Anthony DiComo is in Japan and doing a great job keeping tabs on things. His preview today leads with Cano talking about how much he’s looking forward to the games. You can read that here.
Rating defensive prowess is always an interesting challenge in baseball and we see some of the difference of opinion there with Wednesday’s release of the Wilson Defensive Players of the Year.
Wilson picked its nine best position players in the Majors based on a formula using defensive metrics Range Factor, Defensive Runs Saved, Inside Edge Ratings, UZR and fielding percentage. And its selections differed a great deal from the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards issued Tuesday, with Rawlings going 75 percent to the vote of managers and coaches and 25 percent to defensive metrics.
The Wilson Team:
First base – Adrian Gonzalez (Dodgers)
Second base – Ian Kinsler (Tigers)
Shortstop – Andrelton Simmons (Braves)
Third base – Juan Uribe (Dodgers)
Left field – Alex Gordon (Royals)
Center field – Lorenzo Cain (Royals)
Right field – Jason Heyward (Braves)
Catcher – Russell Martin (Pirates)
Pitcher – Johnny Cueto (Reds)
Interestingly, five of those players didn’t win 2014 Gold Gloves, even though Gold Gloves are awarded in each league, while Wilson chose just one player from all of MLB at each position.
Kinsler, Uribe, Cain, Martin and Cueto were the non-Gold Glovers selected first by Wilson’s rating system. So let the debate continue. From my perspective, there’s plenty of room for both awards and it’s nice to have two differing viewpoints as defense indeed is hard to quantify.
Rawlings continues to rely more heavily on the eyeball test and opinion of coaches and managers, though it has added in some defensive metrics in the past two years. Here are this year’s Gold Glove winners. Wilson goes straight by the numbers, which continue to get more advanced as we go.
Wilson also selected the Cincinnati Reds as the best defensive team in baseball, while Heyward earned the Defensive Player of the Year honor.
The Mariners didn’t land anyone on the Wilson team, but Kyle Seager earned his first Rawlings Gold Glove on Tuesday and Seattle’s third baseman was relishing that honor when he spoke with reporters in a conference call on Wednesday from North Carolina. If you haven’t read my story, Seager had some great things to say and you can see it here.