About six weeks ago, relief pitcher Dan Cortes quietly underwent shoulder surgery conducted by team medical director Dr. Edward Khalfayan. The injury was said to have been caused by an off-field fall at some point early in the off-season and prevented Cortes from going to winter ball as had been originally planned.
The surgery was done to repair rotator cuff damage in the shoulder and a partial tear of his biceps tendon and the Mariners were uncertain about where that left the flamethrowing right-hander for next season.
And so, tonight, in a move that seems surprising until you factor in the surgery, Cortes, 24, was not tendered a contract by the team. He is officially a free agent and can negotiate with any team, including the Mariners.
But will the Mariners do that? I’m not sure they will.
Cortes also broke his hand late in the season in an off-field incident in a Seattle restaurant.
So, about 2 1/2 years after he first came to Seattle in the Yuniesky Betancourt trade, Cortes has reached the end of the line here. He appeared in 13 games for the Mariners over parts of the 2010 and 2011 season, his 100 mph fastball and infectious personality offset by troubles with his command.
For the record, I liked Cortes and hope he succeeds. He’s had some issues away from the field but was as hard a worker physically as just about anyone I’ve seen in a weightroom and had the right on-field attitude to try to better himself.
He’s also had a tough off-season, not just with the injuries but also in losing close friend Greg Halman, stabbed to death last month. Cortes spoke at the funeral in The Netherlands and wore his heart on his sleeve whenever we spoke — whether it was after Halman’s death or just about anytime in the clubhouse or at spring training.
He’s clearly a good person deep down who has overcome a lot from his distant past just to make it this far in baseball. Now, he has to go that extra mile and give himself the chance to complete the journey. It won’t be in Seattle, but let’s hope he can do it someplace else.
Chris Gimenez was also not tendered a deal.
That’s hardly a surprise, coming as it did after the Mariners traded for catcher John Jaso and will also have Adam Moore coming to camp along with incumbent Miguel Olivo. The Mariners also recently signed Guillermo Quiroz to a minor league deal, so they’ve got spare catchers hanging around.
The team’s roster is now four players shy of 40.
Brandon League, Jason Vargas and Shawn Kelley were all offered deals as expected and will continue through the arbitration process.
Vargas should get about $5 million, League at least $4.5 million and Kelley under $1 million after injuries sidelined him most of last season.