One day following the official start of baseball’s offseason (start date is five days after the end of the World Series), the Mariners quickly made four roster moves, the most significant of which is that former closer David Aardsma is no longer in Seattle’s plans. The Mariners outrighted Aardsma, and he opted to become a free agent.
That Aardsma has become a free agent is no surprise. The 29-year old, acquired in a 2009 trade with the Boston Red Sox, did not pitch in the majors this past season after recovering from a pair of injuries.
He had surgery last Jan. 3 to repair a tear in the labrum of his left hip, and also had ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) replacement surgery (Tommy John) on his right elbow on July 22 (performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum).
In two seasons with the Mariners, Aardsma combined to record 69 saves, fourth-most in club history. But Aardsma became expendable due his salary ($4.5 million) and the emergence of Brandon League ($2.5 million), who recorded 37 saves, third in the American League and tied for the fourth most in club history. From May 17 through the end of the season, League went 27-for-29 in save opportunities with a 1.04 ERA.
The Mariners placed Gutierrez, 28, on the 60-day disabled list with a strained left oblique on Sept. 6. In 92 games this past season, Gutierrez batted just .224 (72×322) with 13 doubles, one home run and 19 RBIs. Gutierrez missed the first 41 games of the season while on the disabled list with stomach gastritis.
Winner of a Gold Glove in 2010, Gutierrez will enter the 2012 season with a streak of 786 consecutive errorless chances in center field.
The Mariners placed Moore, 27, on the 60-day disabled list, retroactive to April 7, with a torn medial meniscus in his right knee on April 8. Moore underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on April 12.
Moore appeared in just two games for the Mariners in 2011, going 1-for-6 (.167) with a double. He is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League with the Peoria Javelinas.
Gray, 29, appeared in 24 games for the Mariners in 2011, going 0-1 with one save and a 4.89 ERA (19 ER, 35.0 IP). He was claimed off waivers from the Chicago White Sox on May 13. In parts of four major league seasons with the As (2008-09), Cubs (2010), White Sox (2011) and Mariners (2011), Gray has combined to go 1-2 with a 4.57 ERA in 66 relief appearances.
The period in which clubs can negotiate exclusively with their own free agents runs through Nov. 2. Other key dates before teams report to spring training:
— Nov. 23: Last day for teams to offer salary arbitration to their former players who became free agents.
— Dec. 5-8: Baseball’s Winter Meetings, Dallas, TX.
— Dec. 7: Last day for free agents offered salary arbitration to accept the offers.
— Feb. 19, 2012: Voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers and injured players at spring training.