(Larry Stone here. Geoff’s getting a well-earned break after covering the winter meetings all week).
Jack Cust passed his physical today, and the Mariners officially announced his signing to a one-year contract. Cust’s addition puts the team over the limit on their 40-man roster, so a corresponding roster move will have to be made. They have until Monday to do so, and plan to announce the move then.
Jack Zduriencik confirmed that Cust will be the team’s primary designated hitter.
“There will be times other players on the roster DH, but we brought him here to be our DH,” he said during a conference call. “He can play some first base or outfield, but that’s not his strength. We know this guy is a power hitter who can drive the baseball. That’s why he’s here. We’re obviously looking for someone to help our offense. Jack fits the bill. We really like his plate discipline, and he’s been pretty durable. We think his talents will play well at Safeco Field.”
Cust was flying home to Pennsylvania today and unavailable. Zduriencik stressed that the signing of the 31-year-old veteran isn’t inconsistent with what is obviously a rebuilding time for the organization.
“One thing we’re not going to deviate from is our long-range plan,” he said. “We’re still building this organization — laying the cement, putting up the pillars. The construction process is ongoing, but we want to be as competitive as we can at the big-league level. Maybe we can be fortunate here and there on the way and some things happen. Last year, we were very unfortunate in a number of ways. We’re trying to stay the course and build the organization and add pieces to the big-league club when we think it’s appropriate.”
Asked how the Cust addition impacts Milton Bradley, Zduriencik said, “There will be times Milton will DH and times Milton will be in left field as well. A lot depends on when we roll into spring training. There will be competition. We’re trying to create that. I look forward to Milton being healthy and having his issues behind him and being a contributor to the club. He can do that. That’s why we acquired him. I’ve talked to those around him, and he’s healthy and working very hard.”
Moving forward, Zduriencik said his “ears are open” to future deals. “There’s always discussions. I don’t think we’ll be huge players in this; I know we’re not. …I think we had enough conversations (during the winter meetings) and enough people out there understand what we’re doing, there are possibilities something else could happen.”
Zduriencik said the team would be open to adding an infielder to the roster. “I do think an infielder is desirable for us. I don’t know where that takes us, but I certainly think if we can add one, it would help us along.”