Mariners bring back RHP Tom Wilhelmsen to bolster bullpen

Jun 22, 2016, 6:50 AM | Updated: 11:32 am
Tom Wilhelmsen had a 10.55 ERA with Texas, which acquired him in an offseason trade with the M's. (...
Tom Wilhelmsen had a 10.55 ERA with Texas, which acquired him in an offseason trade with the M's. (AP)

DETROIT – A new but familiar face will be in the Mariners’ bullpen Wednesday night as the team has signed Tom Wilhelmsen, who declared free agency last week after clearing waivers and refusing an assignment to the minor leagues with the Rangers. In doing so, he forfeited around $1.8 million of guaranteed salary. Wilhelmsen signed a one-year deal with the Mariners.

Wilhelmsen struggled mightily with the Rangers, giving up 25 earned runs in 21 1/3 innings. Five of those runs came against the Mariners on April 5. He last pitched for Texas on June 13, giving up six runs on nine hits in one inning.

Mariners acquire LHP Wade LeBlanc from Toronto

As grim as those numbers are, Wilhelmsen pitched much better for Seattle. In 2015 with the Mariners, he gave up more than two earned runs just once. In his last outing with the Rangers, he averaged 96 mph with his fastball, reaching as high as 97. In other words, he appears to be healthy. It’s unlikely that a change back to familiar scenery is all it will take to get the 32-year-old back on track, but if he remains in the majors he will have new eyes on him: Mariners pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. and bullpen coach Mike Hampton.

To make room for Wilhelmsen on the 40-man roster, the Mariners transferred reliever Charlie Furbush to the 60-day disabled list. Wilhelmsen will take the spot on the 25-man roster of right-hander Jonathan Aro, who was optioned to Triple-A. The Mariners’ 40-man roster remains full.

With the return of Wilhelmsen, the Mariners now have two-thirds of a full refund (plus a little pocket change for the sale of pitcher Anthony Bass’ contract to a team in Japan) on the package they sent to Texas in December to acquire Leonys Martin, with only outfielder James Jones remaining in the Rangers organization from the five-player trade. Minor-league infielder Patrick Kivlehan, the third piece of that package along with Wilhelmsen and Jones, was traded back to Seattle last month.

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