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October 31, 2011 at 4:37 PM

David Aardsma becomes a free agent; Jeff Gray claimed off waivers

david-aardsma.jpg
We’ve had our first real Mariners housekeeping of the off-season. David Aardsma, as expected, became a free agent today, though this does not prevent him from re-signing an incentive-laden deal with the Mariners.
More on that in a moment.
In another move, pitcher Jeff Gray was claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Twins. So no, Gray will not be coming back to the Mariners. He was put through waivers — as was Aardsma — as a step in removing him from the 40-man roster.
The team also took Franklin Gutierrez and Adam Moore off the 60-day DL today and put both players back on the roster, which now stands at 37.
Aardsma also went through waivers, but wasn’t claimed. That’s hardly a surprise, given how he underwent Tommy John surgery last July and probably won’t pitch again until at least midway through next season.
“This in no way rules out me coming back to Seattle,” Aardsma said in a phone conversation. “I didn’t want to have to go this route, but realistically, given the financial situation and my own circumstances, I could understand why the team would make the decision that it did.”
Photo Credit: AP


Just a brief explanation on why this had to happen the way it did. Aardsma was paid $4.5 million for essentially doing nothing last season because he was never able to pitch.
He was arbitration eligible, but rules prevent teams from offering such players a pay cut of more than 20 percent.
So, to hang on to Aardsma without free agency, the M’s would have had to offer him at least $3.6 million next season — knowing full well he might not be ready until July or August if at all.
That was never going to happen and everyone understood this from the beginning.
Now, any team can offer Aardsma whatever they want — including minor league deals if they so choose. My guess is he’ll get a heavily incentivized major league contract. We’ll see what happens. It’s possible the Mariners take a flyer on him once again, though he could get a better offer from a team that expects to contend in 2012 and might want some bullpen insurance for late in the year.
Aardsma had lots of good things to say about Seattle.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time in Seattle,” Aardsma said. “(General manager) Jack Zduriencik gave me my first real chance to be a big league closer and that’s not something I’ll ever forget.”

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