Updated 2:32 p.m : The Mariners made the signing official. They didn’t make the signing official. But a source confirmed it’s a one-year, $1 million base salary with incentives. Enrique Rojas reported earlier they incentives could add an extra $2 million to the deal.
Last night, Jon Morosi tweeted out that the Mariners are close to signing Franklin Gutierrez to a one-year incentive laden contract. This is going to happen. General manager Jack Zduriencik confirmed the interest in Gutierrez at the winter meetings and a deal has been in the works since then.
This is all contingent on Gutierrez passing a physical, which is in the process of being finalized. We could have an announcement sometime today.
Obviously the mention of Gutierrez brings out emotion in many fans. To many, he’s a human petri dish destined to be inundated with rare sicknesses and injuries that will keep him off the field. In the last three seasons, he’s played in a total of 173 games. The last two seasons he’s played a total of 81 games. Last season, he played in 41 games for the Mariners and 47 games with the Rainiers on a myriad of rehab assignments. He was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis – a form of longterm arthritis – last season. This year while playing in the Venezuelan Winter League, he contracted a viral infection and was shut down.
The Mariners made the mistake of thinking he might be close to an every day player last season. They relied on him to be part of their plans and he basically held them hostage with his health issues, even when he was not on the disabled list. It was a regrettable mistake that many could have predicted.
So why would they do the dance with him again?
Well, there won’t be any sort of commitment to Gutierrez. Expect the contract to be similar to what Jason Bay got last year, probably around $1 million and laden with incentives. The full base will probably be contingent on him making the 25-man roster. Yes, they will probably have to put him on the 40-man roster. But there are players to moved off, specifically outfielder Carlos Peguero, who is out of minor league options. It’s a low-risk investment.
The Mariners could also use Gutierrez on some level. If used as a part time player, he might be able to stay healthy and offer a good defensive option late in games and a right-handed bat against lefties. Right now, the Mariners are looking at Michael Saunders as their every day center fielder. Having Gutierrez gives them a bench option. But don’t be surprised if the Mariners continue to shop the outfield market.
On Twitter, a few fans were lamenting the idea of signing Gutierrez because it takes the Mariners out of the running for Shin Soo-Choo or Nelson Cruz. Really? Why? This is less of a financial commitment than the team has given to Willie Bloomquist (the merits of which you can certainly debate). But if the Mariners are interested in bringing in Cruz or Choo, this does not affect them in the least. The lofty asking prices by Cruz and Choo are the biggest impediments. How much is Choo asking for? Well, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo, Choo and his agent Scott Boras turned down 7-years and $140 million from the Yankees.
In that piece, Passan also mentions the Mariners are still discussing David Price for Taijuan Walker and considering Fernando Rodney. Yes, Jack Zduriencik said he had no intentions of trading Walker. But things change.
Though you have to wonder, if you reach the point where you are willing to trade Walker, Franklin and Smoak in a package deal, could you get a better deal than for a good pitcher but with only two years of club control?
As for Rodney, Zduriencik said he wanted bullpen help. But it was reported at the winter meetings that Rodney was looking for $10 million a year for three years, which is just … absurd.
A few other notes …
Outfielder Travis Witherspoon, who was designated for assignment to make room for Corey Hart on the 40-man roster, has cleared waivers and has been outrighted to AA Jackson. Witherspoon, 24, was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels in October. He spent last season at AA Arkansas in the Angels organization where he stole 30 bases in 129 games. Witherspoon has 140 steals (33 caught stealing) in his minor league career, including a combined 110 steals since the start of the 2011 season.
The Mariners signed a pair of players to minor league deals. Cole Gillespie, a former standout with Oregon State, signed a minor league deal to provide outfield depth at Triple A. He’s appeared in 73 big league games over five seasons. The team also signed Burt Reynolds to a minor league deal. No this Burt Reynolds. But this Burt Reynolds, who is actually a cousin of Robinson Cano. Reynolds isn’t a prospect. This may be more of a favor to Cano.
Also multiple reports out there that Raul Ibanez is signing a one-year deal with the Angels for $2.75 million. Good for him, one of the best people I’ve ever covered in any sport.