Drayer: Mariners’ offseason starts with surprise as Yusei Kikuchi elects free agency

Nov 3, 2021, 2:22 PM
Mariners LHP Yusei Kikuchi...
Mariners LHP Yusei Kikuchi pitches against the Oakland Athletics. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Mariners offseason has kicked off with a number of roster moves, some expected, one, more of a surprise.

Mariners Offseason Tracker: Keep up with moves, free agents and more

With the conclusion of the World Series Tuesday night the following players became free agents.

• LHP Tyler Anderson
• LHP  Sean Doolittle
• LHP James Paxton
• RHP Joe Smith
• LHP Hector Santiago

In addition to the pending free agents declaring, the Mariners confirmed they had declined the club option for third baseman Kyle Seager.

Mariners inform 3B Kyle Seager they will decline his 2022 option

The Mariners also announced the expected move of declining the four one-year options at $16.5 million annually through the 2025 season for left-handed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi.

Kikuchi, in turn, has decided to not pick up the remaining one-year player option he held at $13 million and is now a free agent.

Sources at the end of the season indicated that Kikuchi would likely pick up the player option following a rough second half where he was removed from the starting rotation in the final 10 days of the season. Kikuchi struggled from July 7 to the end of the year, a stretch where he posted a 6.22 ERA, an abrupt turnaround from a first-half performance that earned him an All-Star nod as the Mariners’ only representative in 2021.

Kikuchi finishes his three-year Mariners career with a record of 15-24, a 4.97 ERA and 1.403 WHIP. With an uptick in his fastball velocity, which was recorded as second-best by a left-handed starter in the American League in the first half of 2021 and strong performances turned in while Marco Gonzales was on the injured list, for a time it appeared the club option could be picked up. Struggles with his cutter in particular and the general inconsistency of his performance wiped out those thoughts, however, as the season progressed.

With the moves plus the reinstatement of players from the 60-day IL the Mariners 40-man roster is currently at 36.

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