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The deadline to add players to the 40-man roster for protection from the Rule 5 draft came and went Wednesday night, and the Seattle Mariners added a quartet of prospects that they’re not willing to risk losing.

As a refresher, players who signed after their 19th birthday and have been in pro ball for at least four years are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft. Additionally, players that signed after age 18 and have played for five years can be plucked, too. That player must then remain on the selecting club’s 25-man roster all season, else be offered back to his original club for $25,000.

These were all players who were thought likely to be protected heading into the winter meetings where the annual selection process takes place. What’s a little more interesting are two names who were missing: INF Ty Kelly and LHP Brian Moran.

While Kelly isn’t a sexy prospect, and the M’s already have a bevy of young infielders between the high minors and Seattle, he played pretty well during his time with Triple-A Tacoma. He posted a triple slash line of .320/.456/.406 in 54 games after coming over from Baltimore in a trade for Eric Thames. He’s got some versatility, too, able to play all over the infield.

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Now, Kelly isn’t a lock to be selected. Hitting moderately well in the PCL doesn’t turn a 25-year-old mediocre prospect into a sought-after commodity. It’ll be interesting to see if a club might take a stab at him as a 25th player on their roster, using him in a utility role. That’s his upside anyhow, so at his age I suppose it could happen, though I’d bet he doesn’t stick with that club the entire year.

The more surprising player omitted from the list is LHP Brian Moran. The North Carolina teammate of Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager, “The Moranimal” was the last of the three Tar Heels to be selected in the 2009 draft, where the M’s made him their seventh round selection.

Moran appeared in 48 games for the Rainiers in 2013, repeating the level after 23 outings the season prior. Just as he did in 2012, Moran continued to raise some eyebrows with an increase in strikeouts over what he did in the lower levels of the minors. With his unimpressive velocity, he ran a 12.21 SO/9 while only walking 2.87 batters per nine frames. Couple that with an ERA of 3.45 and an even flashier FIP of 2.42, and you might be left wondering why Seattle would expose a cheap bullpen arm that could contribute in 2014.

He did show some holes, however. Prospect Insider is under the impression that the club doesn’t believe he’ll be dominate enough against left-handed batters in the big leagues to make up for not being a guy you want to face righties at all. Therefore, the club actually values guys like Bobby LaFromboise more.

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Further, one NL  chief scout tells us: “He’s got good angles and knows how to take advantage of them, but up there (the big leagues), the bats are too quick. His best fastball all year for me was 85. That doesn’t play.”

I don’t know that Moran is a lock to be selected, but bullpen arms a lot easier to hide and protect than starters and position players. So, my money is on some team taking a flier on him. If he doesn’t cut it, he could find his way back to the Mariners, cut and claimed by another team or just come down with some fake injury — a common practice in the Rule 5 game.

Other notes
One thing I found interesting is that the M’s elected to leave two spots on their 40-man roster open. You typically leave spots open for this exact time of year — protecting prospects from poaching. So, this could mean something, or nothing at all. It doesn’t mean the Mariners are close to any sort of signing or trade, but if you want a reason to keep an eye on twitter for the next couple days, there you go.


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  4. So far the Mariners have never paid any profit to any owner, including Nintendo. Hiroshi Marauchi bought the team to thank the people of Seattle for welcoming Nintendo of America and helping it grow. It would be counter to the culture in Japan to sell something given as a gift.

  5. Mike Ilitch knows pizza. You don’t why Fielder was traded. I think it had more to do with a 2-time MVP being unable to play 3B. That plus a disrespectful attitude. But Fielder can hit and to single him out as the point of failure is ridiculous.
    If what Olney says is true, we should find out very soon. It’s pretty much crunch time for the Mariners organization.
    You can’t believe everything you read on the internet. Even guys like Olney put out junk based on “a club official or source”. I believe they are telling the truth. I also believe the definition of official or source is pretty loosely defined. That said, still very interesting reading.

  6. Money maker as in single product not a combined product the Nintendo games or sytem is.

  7. @rjfrik

    Problem there is the M’s do not have the typical MLB ownership. It is majority owned by Nintendo of America and as such is the companies largest money maker. It will be treated as such and made sure there is a certain profit margin. Until the club is sold I do not see this changing. See mid range moves at best. Choo maybe the hi end if we are lucky. I hope I am wrong, but I doubt it.

  8. Yep. Any smart GM will look at the Mariners resources (a lot), look at their current and future obligations (nothing, only Felix after 14’), look at their young talent and start fathoming at the mouth. You also need to look at next years Free Agent class: There isn’t one. So after this year you won’t be able to acquire a prime time talent via free agency for a few years. If I see that writing on the wall, I’m going big on the big free agents.

    That means I’m paying Cano 300 million, when no one else will. I’m paying Ellsbury 140 million when no one else will, I’m bidding on Tanaka by throwing a 75 million posting fee, and I’m actively trying to trade for one of Carl Crawford or Matt Kemp to play LF by dangling DJ Peterson, a player they are very interested in. Then I resign Morales on a two year deal.


    If that’s your top five batting order it will rival any in the league. Yeah it will cost us a lot of cash, but what is the point of holding on to a bunch of cash. Use it to infuse All Star talent into the organization and ignite a sleeping fan base.

  9. Been many saying the M’s should oevrpay and go after Cano. 7 for 180-210 may get it done. I would like the M’s to sign J. Niemann SP who just went the F/A route. Could be had at a veery solid price and him in the M’s park makes a ton of sense. He was set to get around 3 mill, Bring him in at 4 with a mutial option.

  10. Mike Ilitch signed Fielder two years at age 82 to help him win a World Series before he died. Now he’s 84, has seen two years of Fielder and no World Series trophy and he got rid of him because he still wants to win a World Series and Fielder was wasting his precious time. He’s eight years older than me but I understand his thinking.

    (Headline) Mariners a free agency sleeping giant. By Buster Olney at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended] His extensive article opens with: “There are more than a few rising young executives — and older executives, for that matter — who are outside of the Seattle Mariners’ organization and looking in, and they are wistful, wishing they could grab the Mariners’ steering wheel. They see potential in the passion of a fan base that is dormant after more than a decade of struggles. They see the Mariners as the great sleeping giant in baseball. They see a possible financial powerhouse, given that the Mariners own their own television network. They see a team saturated with prospects taken near the top of the draft.” He goes on to name some players he can see the M’s acquiring and quotes “rival executives” as saying: “They could be the team that goes after Robinson Cano,” one official said. “It might cost them $30 million [per year] to sign him” — because the Mariners would have to overpay to land him — “but they could do that. They could sign Jacoby Ellsbury. They could do both, easily, and make it fit.” Because he says, Cano and Ellsbury are elite and for the Mariners, they would be game-changers. It’s a good read, worth the price.

  11. ……and then again he may deteriorate as bad as Big Papi who is the age that Fielder will be when his contract expires. And the Red Sox managed a WS championship with a full time DH who is kinda big. The Rangers have been a pretty good judge of talent and putting pieces together, they might know what they are doing. He’s also been pretty durable playing at least 157 games/year for 8 straight years, averaging 35 homers, 107 RBI and 3.45 WAR. Thats not chump change, and he can degrade quite a bit and still be a decent DH which I think Texas is probably expecting in a couple years.

  12. Take a look at Princes Daddy Cecil’s results some time. In the four seasons he played after his age 31 season he produced 2.2 fWAR total. Similar body type, similar genes, will most likely be a bigger albatross. He will help Texas for possibly 3 or 4 years, maybe not that long, plus they have lost Kinsler’s production. It will make them better for some time but their owners have lost money on them so far and look set to lose some more.

  13. I can understand why the M’s let Moran go, simply for the reasons you listed. There are proably some higher upside guys in the Rule 5 from what I’ve read. If still available the M’s might take a chance on the Cubs Marcus Hatley or the Yankees Danny Burawa, a couple of hard throwers.

  14. Agree, the financial relief was an added benefit. If Fielder would have pulled off a Reggie Jackson in the playoffs and lead the Tigers to a WS Crown, there would not have been enough money to get him out of Detroit. I think his attitude is part of the equation also.

  15. Good point. I guess there is a reason I am not a big league GM and have only gotten a GM job in my baseball sim game lol. Ty Kelly would definitely be on my 40 man roster lol.

  16. Kelly simply cannot play SS, not even in short stints, so he doesn’t fit the utility profile at all. If he had power, he’d make more sense as a 2B/3B/OF type, but he doesn’t, so …

  17. Edman..The rangers panicking? Why because they have been the cream of our division for 6 years hell I wish we had one year like them .Same old story JZ in on every free agent gets none…Yawn..when will we learn

  18. How can we say the Rangers our panicking hell I wish we had one of the years they have had the last 6 years instead we sign no one but alledgedly we our in on everyone same old story ..yawn

  19. As a side note, although the Fielder/Kinsler deal is probably better for the Tigers given the money, years, and roster situation, this trade could easily work out very well for the Rangers too.

    The Rangers had their own logjam in the middle infield, and traded Kinsler to fix their two biggest holes: 1B and elite power bat. Don’t forget: Fielder was one of the best hitters in baseball for most of his career. Put him in Texas for half his games, and he could easily put up HUGE numbers next year. Fielder may be overpaid, but he’s got a damn strong track record.

    By July or August, this deal could look like a steal for the Rangers.

  20. I don’t think the Tigers motivation was purely financial.

    With Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera already on the team, moving Fielder makes sense. Especially given Cabrera’s terrible defense and concerns about keeping him healthy. This makes them better from a baseball standpoint.

    I’d expect the Tigers to reinvest that money. Far from a salary dump. Now, they can spend in other areas without hitting the luxury tax threshold.

  21. I’m glad to see the Rangers panicking. They’ve missed out the last two season, playing runner-up to Oakland, so now they take on a huge contract for seven more years. More telling, is that even the Tigers have budget concerns. Some seem to think that teams like the Tigers are willing to spend whatever it takes to win. That’s simply not true, which is why they traded Fielder, to clear salary to sign Miguel and Max.

    Fielder’s contract will be a burden on Texas. They already have a large payroll. We’ll see how it plays out.

  22. I agree Moran is the most likely to be selected (at a cost of $50,000) as he’s worth a shot in many bullpens – at least through spring training. Although whoever takes him has to make 40-man space for him too. The two open slots suggest to me possible free agent acquisitions, trades would probably take people off as well as add new ones. The M’s leak proof front office is holding water well so far. The big catches are going to take some time and courtship no doubt, plus the Yankees need to know what’s with A-Rod and the Japanese posting conflict will need to be resolved for Tanaka enthusiasts (like me) Reuben Amaro Jr. is on the hot seat and moving fast as usual but he’s not helping market inflation. Fielder is going to help the Rangers next season, but eventually he will become a significant drain on their resources. Love how A-Rod is becoming the poster boy for Roid Rage. The Yankees must love it.

  23. There’s probably just not enough there for a club to want to carry him on their big league roster all year. As I said, it’s easier to do this with bullpen arms than other types of players. A contending team isn’t going to plug him into an every day gig, and might prefer someone with speed for their bench. Bad teams probably have younger, home grown guys they’d rather see. It’s not impossible that he’s selected, but I just don’t think it’s that likely.

  24. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t protect Ty Kelly. He isn’t a big time prospect but he seems like he can hit and get on base while providing some depth around the IF. Seems like exactly the type of player the team should hold onto.

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