LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. The Seattle Mariners prepared to leave baseballs Winter Meetings Thursday with only having made one move officially — and two unofficially.
The club plucked Class-A right-handed pitcher Jose Flores from the Cleveland organization in the Rule 5 draft. Rule 5 selections cost $50,000, and they either have to remain on the big league roster all year or they have to be offered back to the original club at $25,000.
Unofficially the club has signed DH/outfielder Jack Cust, a deal that should be announced Friday in Seattle, and has repotedly agreed to terms on a two-year deal with catcher Miguel Olivo, who played with the team for parts of the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Seattle needs a veteran catcher who can both play regularly and mentor Adam Moore, who will be in his second year in 2011.
Olivo, who hit a career-high .269 in 394 at-bats with the Colorado Rockies in 2010, adding 14 homers and 58 RBIs, was spooked by the difficulty of hitting home runs in Safeco Field during his first run with the Mariners, but club officials are optimistic thats behind him.
“Hes the guy they really want, a source told Sportspress Northwest.
Asked if hed offered a contract to any free agent catcher Gregg Zaun is also on the short list at the conclusion of the Rule 5 draft, general manager Jack Zduriencik took a moment to collect his thoughts.
“Weve had in-depth dialogue, Zduriencik said.
The Mariners have only made one firm offer to any free agent, reaching agreement with Cust Wednesday. Cust confirmed the deal was done, but the Mariners wont be announcing anything officially until Friday.
As for Flores, hes a Venezuelan who throws 95 mph and has decent control. The number of Class-A Rule 5 players successfully to make the jump to the Major Leagues is small.
“Not too many kids have made this leap, Zduriencik said. “Its a good challenge, for him and a $25,000 gamble for us. Hes got a good arm and hes a strike thrower who can reach 95. Its worth it.
Seattle manager Eric Wedge, who was in Cleveland through the 2009 season, knows Flores a bit.
“Hes a young pitcher with a great arm, Wedge said. “I like his stuff. And I like the competition having a Rule 5 player on the roster brings. It will push everybody.