Just spoke to new Mariners DH Jack Cust, who confirmed to me that he agreed to a $2.5-million base salary with the Mariners. There are also incentives in the deal, based on plate appearances, that could take it up over the $2.65 million he earned with Oakland last season.
Cust told me his priority is signing was to find a team that appreciated what he could do as a player — make that, a full-time player.
“From what it sounds like, I’m going to be in there both way (versus lefties and righties) and that’s the way I like it,” he said. “I’ve always been able to hit lefties pretty well.”
Cust hit for an .822 on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) versus lefties in 2008 and
.785 in 2007. But then he fell off to .621 in 2009 and .638 last year.
We talked about that and Cust said the lower numbers were the results of bizarre matchups, where he’d face lefties irregularly and then wind up being inserted against top arms. He faced southpaws in just 208 at-bats the past two years compared to 136 in 2008 alone, so maybe there’s something to what he says.
We’ll have to see. If he shows he can hit them, he may just get that full-time job.
Cust told me he wanted to play in Seattle last season when he’d been a free agent. But the Mariners were already booked up with DH types Ken Griffey Jr., Milton Bradley and Mike Sweeney.
For now, it looks like he’ll get a taste of that weather in coming days. Cust is hoping to get up to Seattle for a physical and press conference on Friday, but told me nothing had been finalized yet.
“I actually like the weather up there in Seattle,” the New Jersey native said. “It’s not too hot and I did like it in the summertime.”
Photo Credit: AP
The physical shouldn’t be much of a problem. Cust has had a handful of minor aches and pains over the years, but has never gone on the DL.
“That’s something I pride myself on,” he said. “Taking care of myself so I don’t get into a situation where I’m hurt. It’s not like there are many ways to get hurt when you’re a full-time DH.”
Cust laughed at that last line.
You get the feeling he doesn’t take himself too seriously.
Like I said, he grew up in Northern New Jersey, a Yankees fan, but, as he told me “more of a Ken Griffey Jr. fan than a Yankees fan.”
He knows the Mariners have fallen on harder times than in Griffey’s heyday.
“Last year was a rough year for them,” he agreed. “But when you look at how they did two years ago, they did pretty good as a team. Hopefully we can follow that pattern next season and have the good year and then continue it after that.”
Cust describes himself as a middle of the order hitter, even though he hit everywhere from No. 2 through No. 8 in the order with Oakland.
‘I’m comfortable anywhere, really,” he said. “As long as it’s a routine thing, where I know who the guys are in front of me and behind me. That way, you can get used to it and I think it works best.”