Mariners notebook: Kaleb Cowart added as utility player and pitcher
The Mariners made a small but interesting move on the first day of the Winter Meetings, claiming infielder Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. What did the Mariners see in the utility infielder with a lifetime .177 batting average? Well a pitcher, of course.
While he hasn’t taken the mound since high school, the 26-year-old former first-round pick was scouted by teams as both a pitcher and position player. At the time, the Diamondbacks – who Jerry Dipoto was with – saw Cowart as a pitcher. The Angels drafted him as an infielder.
Recently, the decision to work him out back on the mound was made, and according to Dipoto, Cowart has been throwing 91-96 mph since beginning pitcher workouts about six weeks ago.
“We are going to bring him to camp as a two-way player and just let him be a super utility-type of offensive player while also trying to cultivate what he is doing on the mound,” Dipoto said.
Cowart is out of minor league options and will need to clear waivers if the Mariners want to send him to the minors. In the coming weeks he will get extra work on the bio-mechanical side of pitching with minor league quality assurance coach Dustin Lind and director of pitching development and strategies Brian DeLunas.
“We will give him a chance to do both and see where that leads us,” said Dipoto. “If nothing else, it makes for a wildly interesting 25th player on our roster who can do a lot of different things.”
With the addition of Cowart, the Mariners 40-man roster is at 36.
Here are some more news and notes from the day.
• The Mariners’ coaching staff has undergone plenty of changes this offseason, and there’s a chance it could end up with another spot needing to be filled. Bench coach Manny Acta, who has been manager Scott Servais’ right-hand man for three years, is up for Baltimore’s vacant managerial position, according to MLB reporter Jon Heyman.
Sources: Orioles 6th managerial candidate is Manny Acta, former Nationals/Indians manager
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 10, 2018
• Safeco Field, or whatever it will be named going forward, will continue to be the Mariners’ home for the next 25 years. The Mariners and the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District (PFD) Board announced late Monday afternoon that the two sides have finalized a new 25-year lease. For full details, click here.
• The Mariners need a number of bullpen arms, and they should have no problem finding them. Sarah Langs of ESPN points out via the Buster Olney Podcast that there are 68 free agent relievers available, with only four signed so far. The most signed in any offseason, according to Langs, is 43. Could be a cold winter for a number of relievers.
• One arm of interest the Mariners have been linked to is Blake Parker, who had a brief stay in the Mariners organization in 2016 before being claimed off waivers by the Yankees. Parker is coming off two solid seasons with the Angels where put up a combined 2.90 ERA combined, with 22 saves in 133.2 innings pitched.
• It is not clear what the Mariners’ plan is with the bullpen as far as a closer goes next season. Will they appoint one or use multiple relievers in the role? Dipoto has indicated, however, that this is an area where he would look to add talent for now as he would like to make sure the team has the ability to protect leads it has earned late in games, which can be of particular importance for a developing club. “It would be fair to say in the bullpen we are a little bit more geared toward players who can come in and make an impact now,” he said.
• Dipoto confirmed that the Mariners are one of the many teams that has interest in Japanese free agent pitcher Yusei Kikuchi. “We are interested and he does fit our timeline,” Dipoto said of the 27-year-old left-handed starter. “By the time we get to our next window, he’s 29.”
• The Mariners have reportedly inked catcher Jose Lobaton to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Lobaton has spent the majority of the last nine seasons as a backup in San Diego, Tampa, D.C. and with the Mets.
• The Bartender has called it a career. A mostly fun and interesting career at that for Tom Wilhelmsen.
Sending all the best to @tom_wilhelmsen as he calls closing time on his career.
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) December 10, 2018