By Shannon Drayer
An interesting day in Marinerland to say the least. A rundown with some thoughts:
• Felix Hernandez. Seven years, $175 million. Five years at $135.5 million on top of the $39.5 million on the remaining deal, according to Buster Olney of ESPN. Yep. It adds up. I think there is a good chance we could hear the official announcement Friday. That will be one happy Felix on the podium. Probably wearing some impressive jewelry. I will be glad to see this official. Lock him up and move on.
• We also learned Thursday that the Mariners are close to a one-year deal with left-hander Joe Saunders. I will be relieved to see this done. Very relieved. While it would have been fun to see what happened if the Big 3 and others were run out there next year, the way the young hitters were last year, it will be better to see an established arm.
When the Kendrys Morales/Jason Vargas move was made I said I would like it if Vargas was replaced in the rotation with an established arm. I now really like this deal. The addition of Saunders means you are not forced into giving a spot to Erasmo Ramirez, Blake Beavan or Hector Noesi in order to protect a young arm that is not quite ready. Ramirez and Beavan both have a great chance of making the rotation but the Mariners will not be put in the situation of weighing the present and the future. They can go with the best arms. If a kid sneaks in there, fantastic. That door will still be open. A little competition never hurt anyone.
Good to have a left-hander in the rotation as well. Saunders is a known quantity and it is good to have more of those in your rotation. Again, sigh of relief when this is done.
• The somewhat strange move today was the DFA’ing of Shawn Kelley. The team needed to make room for catcher Kelly Shoppach on the 40-man roster so Kelley was removed. The team has 10 days to trade, release or re-assign him and before that can happen he must be put on waivers. I don’t believe there is a trade in the works but that is not to say it won’t happen. I would be very surprised if Kelley cleared waivers. He most likely will be claimed.
I saw quite a bit of displeasure with this move on Twitter with many wondering why Carlos Peguero or Yoervis Medina were not the players DFA’d. With Peguero, the power is still too tantalizing to let go. He hasn’t shown much offensively at the big-league level, and we won’t even talk about the defense other than that I do appreciate the fact that it is entertaining, with the most troubling part being that he hasn’t even shown much progress in approach. They are not giving up on him, though. Not yet.
As for Medina, they moved him to the bullpen last year and liked some of what they saw. They would like another look and it looks like they will get it.
Not that positions in the bullpen will be easy to win, which is another reason why it was Kelley who was designated. Without youngsters or outside surprises the bullpen could be set with Tom Wilhelmsen at the top and Lucas Luetge, Oliver Perez, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Carter Capps, and Josh Kinney all a decent spring away from keeping their jobs.
As for Shoppach, he will wear No. 7. That’s all I got.