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Mariners adding Rodney; money left for Cruz?

By Shannon Drayer

Jonah Keri of Grantland was first to report and others have since confirmed that the Mariners have reached agreement with reliever Fernando Rodney on a two-year, $14 million contract. The team has yet to confirm and I am hearing that we most likely will not have that confirmation until early next week.

With 85 saves and a 1.91 ERA with the Rays over the past two seasons, reliever Fernando Rodney strengthens a Mariners bullpen that sorely lacked depth last season. (AP)

Rodney, who turns 37 in March, spent the past two seasons with Tampa Bay, where he saved 85 games and posted a 1.91 ERA.

If true – and it appears to be a passed physical away from being official – this move most likely bumps Danny Farquhar from the closer role. There may be talk of competition in spring training but you generally don’t bring in a pitcher with a $7 million price tag to be the setup guy. Regardless of how this plays out, the Mariners now have a bit of much needed depth in the bullpen, something they didn’t have last year.

Instead of having Tom Wilhelmsen as the backup plan to Farquhar – who coming off his first closing experience is a bit (the tiniest bit at that) of a question mark in my book – you now have Farquhar as the backup to an established closer in Rodney. If Farquhar is what we saw in the second half of last year, the Mariners now have a nice right-left combo with Charlie Furbush joining him in a setup role. If Wilhelmsen bounces back then the Mariners are set at the back end of the bullpen with multiple options at closer if needed. At a minimum with the Rodney move, they have added to a position of need.

There is a bit of intrigue in this move as by my calculations it pushes them well over what they were budgeted to spend last year and closer to the $100 million mark for the payroll. Multiple sources have told me that over the past few weeks the Mariners have been lobbying ownership for additional dollars, and if a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today is accurate, it appears they may have received them.

“The Mariners say they are all in and yes, are cautiously optimistic they will also sign slugger Nelson Cruz,” Nightengale tweeted Thursday.

Another move may be coming and perhaps in part thanks to Robinson Cano, who I have heard has been trying to recruit Cruz. He may have had a hand in getting Rodney to Seattle as all three were teammates together on the WBC team from the Dominican Republic.

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