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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14 Comments

  1. When did $750K become meager?

    Besides, they signed Chris Jones, who apparently wants to be a major league pitcher, more than Wolf.

  2. Well, they signed Chris Young. Is everyone still pissed about the Wolf thing? No? Okay, then. Moving on.

  3. I’d feel a lot better if Paxton and Walker could start the year at Triple-A and get the call around the All-Star break or so, but obviously the Mariners don’t have that luxury. For what it’s worth, Paxton has come a very long way in the last year so I think he could be a pleasant surprise right from the get-go. I agree with you on Maurer. Classic case of a guy who looked almost ready and was rushed. Obviously the injury changes things, but a couple extra months in the minors would’ve done him well in my opinion.

  4. Warning signs are all there with Hart! Bad spring, injured, can’t play the field. Can he even hit?

  5. Pitching of the entire AL West is super scary! Texas is close to signing Baker, and a guy just hoping to mark the rotation will be their opening day starter! Angels cut ties with Joe Blanton (nice signing last year!) and who do the A’s have left to pitch? I still give the edge to Texas but the division is a mess!!!

  6. I agree on Paxton and Walker. It’s unlikely that both are successful in Seattle this year. With the Mariners track record, both could flop and then we’d be screwed. Maybe the fear of Maurer still inhabits my being. I drank the juice on him last year and was horribly disappointed.

    I feel good about Erasmo Ramirez though. I think he could be our 3rd best starter this year.

  7. The Angels’ rotation is similar to the Mariners when both sides are running healthy, but Oakland’s is much better even without Parker. I think the Rangers’ weak rotation will be their downfall again as well. I can’t say that Felix and four questions marks is better than any of those three team’s rotations though. Sure on paper Felix, Iwakuma, Paxton, and Walker could be better than Kazmir, Gray, Strailey, Milone, and Griffin, but I still consider Paxton and Walker to be complete wild cards at this point in time. Not suggesting I don’t think they’re capable of handling what’s ahead, I just don’t know what they’ll be capable of across a full major league season, yet.

  8. Wolf at replacement level for a couple games = 1 million
    Some young guy who could be replacement level for a couple games = prorated major league minimum

    If I thought Wolf might have a chance to be decent, I’d go with him. I just can’t see it.

    Is the 45-day release fair? Probably not. But the Players Union agreed to it and these are the types of situations that it should be used. It doesn’t sound like they’re allowed to discuss this possibility prior to this point in time (right before the season) so it’s always going to be somewhat of a surprise. Wolf has the right to refuse and he did that.

    There “should” be no more to this story but, for some reason, this simple little move is seen as a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with the Mariners. It’s really not a big deal. We’ll probably sign another Wolf-like pitcher in the next week and we’ll go back to the same crappy rotation depth we had before.

  9. I don’t know if Beavan has an option left, if he has I’d send him to Tacoma and keep Noesi, who doesn’t have an option and will not clear waiver claims. Believe it or not Noesi has pitched noticeably better than Baker, Wolf and Beavan so far this spring. SSS applies to all involved. We have rotation vulnerabilities but right now we look better off than Texas or the Angels and maybe even the A’s. I do agree Z should have signed a decent rotation arm. I’m not in love with Almonte who probably can’t see as far as the Mendoza Line. If McClendon has him lead off that’s just dumb.

  10. I don’t think anybody is kidding themselves into thinking Wolf was the answer to the rotation problems, but would you rather see a veteran pitch a couple games in April or a young player who desperately needs more time at Triple-A? The Mariners told Wolf he was one of the five best pitchers in camp, and he was. It wasn’t a matter of them acting within their rights, Wolf felt as though they were going back upon their original agreement, which is fair. The M’s said he’d conditionally made the rotation as long as he signed the conditional release/waiver form. He wasn’t interested, asked for release, Mariners gave it to him. There really should be no more to the story than that.

  11. I’m not sure why Wolf is considered a good pitcher. He’s more likely replacement level at best with zero upside.

    The Mariners were willing to give him a shot. Yes, they wanted it on their terms in case he stunk (or we had no further use for him). They were well within their rights to request the 45-day release waiver. If he had somehow done well, he could have easily stayed with the team.

    If Wolf can get a guaranteed major league contract somewhere else, let him try. But there’s not much of a market for a 37 year old coming off Tommy John who was barely replacement level 2 years ago.

    And, for what it’s worth, I’m still irritated with the M’s for not getting a legitimate #3 starter. I hoped Baker was that guy but he was a risk that should not have been relied upon.

  12. It’s a good thing the M’s went out and secured a #3 for the rotation. Opps, they forgot that step. With the off-season fading, I must admit I’m not to impressed with the M’s. The two pitchers they aquired for organizational depth they let go. The banged up right fielder can’t play RF, and maybe not even DH. So my wish list was 2 decent starting pitchers and a bonafide CF. Not to be. JZ, your rabbit’s foot better be really really lucky from here on out. I have very little confidence JZ can make this team any better this year (or any year for that matter). But here’s to hoping I’m wrong. And at least he was able to sign free agents Chavez and Quintero.

  13. Agreed. The club handled that situation extremely poorly. Could’ve made the cut clean, or absorbed the cost if necessary. When other starters come back, Wolf could still be a solid lefty swingman in the pen. That was the plan with Baker had he not struggle as much as he did.

  14. They released a good starter over $1 mil.

    Stupid.

    Pitching depth is worth that meager amount.

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