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December 8, 2010 at 11:01 AM

Jack Cust reaches agreement in principle with Mariners, but no official announcement today

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The Mariners have their new full-time designated hitter after lefty slugger Jack Cust agreed in principle today to a deal with the team. Don’t expect any official announcement on it today, though, as both sides are still finalizing paperwork and various fine print details. It has nothing to do, I’m told, with tomorrow’s Rule 5 draft, though the fact the M’s have only one open roster spot does limit their flexibility.
They will have to DFA somebody, or put somebody on a 60-day DL if they take a Rule 5 player tomorrow and don’t trade anyone beforehand.
But the delay is more to finalize the deal, Looking like they won’t be able to get a physical done until Friday. In the photo above, you can see Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, who just went on 710 ESPN Seattle with host Mike Salk and said he was embarrassed by last year’s team. Getting some bats that can actually hit will go a long way towards alleviating some of that and today was a first step.
The deal is reported to be for one year, $2.5 million, roughly what Cust earned last season in Oakland before being non-tendered last week. We’ll see whether there are any incentive clauses attached to that.
At first glance, the move is an upgrade over what the M’s currently have at DH.


Actually, Felix Hernandez at DH might have been an upgrade. In all seriousness, though, Cust has true home run power as did Russell Branyan. Cust also produces a better on-base percentage than Branyan does when healthy and he’s done so for a longer period of time.
Branyan does tend to hit more home runs, but the on-base thing evens it all out. What you wind up with, in Cust, is a guy with an .833 OPS last season and .851 the prior year. That’s a legit middle of the order bat for a team desperately needing one.
Cust does not offer the ability to play a position the way Branyan did. Anyone who has seen Cust play fknows he can’t handle the outfield respectably enough to be put out there any more than Ken Griffey Jr. was in 2009. In other words, this is strictly a bat pick-up.
But if Cust is in there regularly, it’s a good one.

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