Mariners Re-sign Chavez, Quintero and Release Baker, Wolf

 As the old saying goes, there’s never such a thing as too much the depth. A day after releasing both Endy Chavez and Humberto Quintero who were in camp on minor league deals, the Seattle Mariners re-signed both players to new minor league deals and they will stay within the organization according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. (Twitter links).

Chavez, 36, appeared in 97 games for the Mariners in 2013 which marked his second stint with the club, the first coming back in 2009. The outfielder managed a -1.3 fWAR last year and figures to be no more than a veteran depth piece stashed at Triple-A Tacoma for the start of the season. He’s no longer the defensive player he once was, and his wheels on the base paths have slowed over the years as well. He did manage a .273/.328/.342 line in ’13 however, so there is a little life left in his bat.

Quintero, 34, appeared in 22 games towards the end of the year in 2013 for Seattle and given the presence of John Buck on the roster, didn’t seem to have a real chance OF breaking camp with the club. He’ll begin the year with the Tacoma Rainiers and will likely be the No. 3 catcher on the M’s depth chart. Never much of a hitter, Quintero has been known for his solid defensive abilities behind the plate and has consistently been an above average defensive player throughout his career.

Seattle obviously wanted to bring the pair back, but first released the veterans yesterday in order to avoid paying them each a $100 thousand retention bonus that was required if they were to be kept on the roster passed noon eastern today.

The cut of Quintero seemed like more of a formality than anything else, but the cut of Chavez signalled that the M’s will likely be taking both Abraham Almonte and Stefen Romero north when Spring Training ends this weekend. Almonte didn’t have quite as strong a spring as many hoped, but he does posses the ability to play center field, something that the current roster is lacking of. Romero showed some promise with his bat over the past month with four home runs and 16 hits and appears to hold some of the right handed power Seattle desperately needs in the lineup.

The release of starter Scott Baker was disappointing, but not shocking after the lefty struggled with control problems throughout the spring. Baker was signed to a minor league deal so he’ll receive no compensation from the Mariners for being cut, although it appears he’s close to agreeing to terms on a deal for the pitching depleted Texas Rangers.

A story that’s made more waves than it should have was the release of Randy Wolf yesterday. The left-hander had a decent spring and was actually told he would be making the club’s 25-man roster but there was a condition: Seattle wanted him to sign a 45-day release waiver, which he declined.

Apparently these happen more often than we hear about, but it no doubt caused some sour grapes for Wolf who felt the Mariners were trying to restructure the deal he agreed to in February and took offence to that. The starter would’ve made a $1 million salary for making the team, but the release waiver would allow Seattle to release him without paying him any of the guarantee, as Ryan Divish explains.

With Wolf and Baker now out of the picture, it appears as though the club will break camp with Roenis Elias and Erasmo Ramirez in the rotation alongside Felix Hernandez and James Paxton. The fifth spot, at least temporarily, will likely be handed to Blake Beavan who has not pitched well at all this spring and would probably be better off sorting out his stuff in Triple-A to start the year. But with very limited options, there really wasn’t many choices left to choose from.

The progress of Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker has been steady and the pair should be able to join the rotation before the end of April, but at the moment, Seattle has literally zero pitching depth. It’s fair to say they could get by for a month or so with their current five-man set up, but what happens if Elias can’t make the jump from Double-A to the MLB? Or if Ramirez or Beavan’s struggles from last year carry over? For a team that was supposed to take the form of a contender this year, the extreme uncertainty in their Opening Day rotation says otherwise.

Of course the club could have another move in the works to bring in another starter, possibly by way of a long awaited Nick Franklin trade, but nothing is imminent quite yet. Jason A. Churchill noted last night that the M’s were in on free agent pitcher Chris Young, but he’s not without his own set of concerns as well.

The roster is starting to take shape and Opening Day is literally right around the corner. All the questions we have about this baseball club will be answered soon enough.

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Tyler Carmont

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