The Mariners officially announced the signing of outfielders Endy Chavez and Franklin Gutierrez to minor league contracts with invites to Major League spring training on Monday afternoon.
Neither is expected to the make the club out of spring training. Gutierrez is all but assured of starting the season with Class AAA Tacoma having not played all of last season while recovering from an assortment of health issues.
Chavez, 36, signed a similar minor league contract with Seattle last offseason. The deal featured a June 1 opt out if he wasn’t on the major league roster. The Mariners purchased his contract on May 30 and put him on the active and 40-man roster. Chavez played in 80 games after being called up and hit .276 (64×232) with 12 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs and 23 RBI while playing all three outfield positions.
A favorite of manager Lloyd McClendon, Chavez could make the club as a back-up outfielder. However with McClendon preferring to go with an 8-man bullpen, the Mariners would be down a bench spot.
Gutierrez, who turns 32 on Feb. 21 last played in the a big league game in 2013. He played in 41 games and hit .248 with 10 homers. Two separate trips to the designated list for hamstring issues caused him to miss 106 games.
From 2011 to 2013, Gutierrez appeared in just 173 games. He’s had gastrointestinal issues, a concussion and its side effects and a diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis causing him to miss time. Gutierrez appeared in 10 games in the Venezuelan winter leagues, hitting .222 with an .803 OPS, including five doubles and two homers.
Chavez gives the organization some positional depth in the outfield. Gutierrez is a complete flier. There really should be no expectations for him.
You can expect the Mariners to probably sign a veteran back-up catcher type to a minor league contract to have him compete with Jesus Sucre as well. That may be something we hear in the next few days.