Notes: Decision on Guillen made
Mariners choose not to offer free-agent right fielder arbitration
SEATTLE -- After deciding a month ago to buy out the remaining year of Jose Guillen's contract, the Mariners severed ties on Saturday when they did not offer the veteran outfielder salary arbitration.
If they had, Guillen would have had until Friday to respond. By accepting, Guillen, a Type B free agent, would have been considered "signed" for the 2008 season and removed from the free-agent market. However, he is now available to all 30 MLB organizations -- including the Mariners, who would have received a compensation selection between the first and second rounds -- a so-called sandwich pick -- in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft had they offered arbitration.
The risk apparently wasn't worth the reward."When you offer arbitration to a free agent, you must be prepared to have him accept and be prepared to keep him," Mariners assistant general manager Lee Pelekoudas said. The Mariners offered salary arbitration to right-hander Gil Meche last year. He rejected the offer and signed with the Royals. Seattle wound up with a sandwich pick and selected Oklahoma State third baseman Matt Mangini, who spent most of the summer at Class A Everett, batting .291 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 22 games. Although veteran pitchers Jeff Weaver, Arthur Rhodes and Chris Reitsma also have filed for free agency, Guillen is the only player from the 2007 team that is "ranked" by the Elias Sports Bureau and therefore subject to the free-agent compensation rules. The rankings, which are based on player performance over the past two seasons, are used to determine whether players are Type A or Type B free agents. An organization that signs a Type A free agent and was among the 15 teams that had the best record last season, would lose its first-round Draft pick -- something the Angels did by signing free-agent outfielder Torii Hunter. The Twins will receive the Angels' top pick in the First-Year Player Draft. The Mariners, meanwhile, are not tipping their hand as to which path they'll take with Guillen, who batted .290, hit 24 home runs, drove in 99 runs and became a vocal clubhouse leader last season. He apparently rejected a one-year offer to return to the Mariners, prompting the organization to go with Adam Jones as the starting right fielder in 2008.
Holding pattern: There is no new news on the Mariners' pursuit of right-handed pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, a free agent who spent the last 11 seasons with the Hiroshima Carp in Japan.Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi refused to shed light on the situation during a conference call on Thursday morning with local reporters. "I'm not trying to be a pain in the neck," he said, "but some guys don't like to read about their negotiations in the papers. They're all different and change from time to time, but it is best not to ruffle any feathers, and probably not good to have other clubs knowing what we are doing, anyway." The Mariners are believed to be the front-runner for the 32-year-old, who just might be the best free-agent starting pitcher on the market. The Dodgers, Phillies, Royals and D-backs also have expressed interest in signing Kuroda. Nice start: Right-hander Brandon Morrow looked superb in his first two starts for the Venezuela Winter League's Lara Cardenales. He pitched five shutout innings on Nov. 10 and came back six days later, surrendering two runs in another five-inning outing. Morrow has walked one and struck out nine. "What he has done so far is encouraging," Bavasi said, "and what [Ryan] Rowland-Smith did [in Venezuela] was encouraging. Both are candidates to be in the rotation [next season], and so far, so good." Morrow is scheduled to make seven or eight starts in an effort build his arm strength. Used as both a starter and reliever at University of California-Berkeley, Morrow was used exclusively out of the bullpen during his rookie season with the Mariners. He appeared in 60 games, posting a 3-4 record and 4.12 ERA.
Spring sked set: The Mariners will close out their 2008 Spring Training schedule with three games in a pair of cities prior to flying back to Seattle to open the regular season on March 31 against the Rangers.For the fourth consecutive season, the Mariners and Cubs will end camp with games in Las Vegas on March 28 (7:15 p.m.) and March 29 (1:05 p.m.). The Mariners will face the Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco on March 27 at 7:15 p.m. It also was announced on Thursday that the game time for the March 20 Cactus League game against the Padres at Peoria Stadium has been changed to 7:05 p.m. Playoff bonuses: For the first time since 2003, when they won 93 games and finished in second place, three games behind the Athletics in the American League West, the Mariners received a piece of the playoff pot this season. A full share, worth $9,112.12, went to 46 players. There were 10.58 partial shares given and the eight players promoted from the Minor Leagues in September received cash awards. Former manager Mike Hargrove, who resigned on July 1 -- 88 games into the regular season -- received two-thirds of a share with one-third going to first-base coach Gary Thurman. Going, going ... Right-handed pitcher Jorge Campillo and infielder Nick Green decided to become free agents, rather than be optioned to Triple-A Tacoma. Campillo pitched in five games for the Mariners last season, going 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA. Green, one of the September callups following a solid season at Triple-A Tacoma, was hitless in seven at-bats with Seattle.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.