Busy day for the Seattle Mariners, who not only agreed to terms with RHPs Brandon League and Shawn Kelley, and LHP Jason Vargas on one-year contracts for the 2012 season, but announced that former Mariners Randy Johnson (1989-98) and Dan Wilson (1994-05), will become the fifth and sixth members of the club’s Hall of Fame.
League, 28, ranked third in the American League in 2011 with 37 saves and was selected to play in his first All-Star Game. He went 1-5 with a 2.79 ERA (19 ER, 61.1 IP) in a team-high 65 appearances. League’s 37 saves were fourth-most in single-season club history, and his save percentage (88.1%, 37-for-42) sixth-highest.
In two seasons with the Mariners since coming over from Toronto in a trade for Brandon Morrow, League is 10-12 with a 3.14 ERA (49 ER, 140.1 IP) and 43 saves in 135 appearances. His 135 appearances over the past two seasons are tied for seventh-most in the American League.
The 28-year-old Vargas went 10-13 with a 4.25 ERA (95 ER, 201.0 IP) in 32 starts last season. The lefty set career highs in strikeouts (131), wins (10), innings (201.0) and starts (32). He ranked T3 in the AL with three shutouts and was tied for fourth with 4 complete games.
Acquired from the New York Mets as part of a 12-player trade also involved the Cleveland Indians, Vargas is 22-31 with a 4.19 ERA (226 ER, 485.1 IP) in 86 appearances (77 starts) with the Mariners.
Kelley, 27, saw limited action last season after coming back from partial Tommy John surgery, which was performed Sept. 1, 2010. In 10 games with Seattle, Kelley did not allow a run and scattered seven hits in 12.2 innings. In 15 minor league appearances with AA Jackson and AAA Tacoma, Kelley went 1-1 with a 1.53 ERA (3 ER, 17.2 IP).
The Mariners plan to induct Johnson and Wilson, batterymates through much of the 1990s, in a special ceremony July 28 prior to a game against the Kansas City Royals. Upon induction, the pair will join Alvin Davis (1997), Dave Niehaus (2000), Jay Buhner (2004) and Edgar Martinez (2007) in the club’s Hall.
The Big Unit, who retired after the 2009 season, played 10 of his 22 season in Seattle, leaving the club in a mid-season 1998 trade to the Houston Astros that netted the Mariners Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen and John Halama.
Johnson ranks second in Mariners annals in victories (130), first in shutouts (19), first in strikeouts (2,162), second in complete games (51) and second in innings (1,831.1).
He won the first of five Cy Young awards while pitching for the Mariners in 1995 (18-2, 2.28 ERA) and went on post 303 career victories. His 4,875 strikeouts are second only to Nolan Ryan’s 5,714. Johnson made 10 trips to the All-Star game, four while representing Seattle.
Johnson also pitched the first no-hitter in Mariners history, on June 2, 1990, against the Detroit Tigers in the Kingdome.
Wilson played 12 of his 14 major league seasons for the Mariners, from 1994-2005, after arriving in Seattle along with pitcher Bobby Ayala in a trade that sent Bret Boone and Erik Hanson to the Reds.
Wilson logged more games behind the plate than any catcher in Mariners history at 1,237. He made his only All-Star Game in 1996 and owns the club’s single-season record for RBIs for a catcher with 83 that season. He’s tied with Miguel Olivo for the team record for home runs (18 in 1996).
Wilson had five hits in a game June 11, 1996 at Minnesota, belted a career-high three home runs on Aug. 11, 1996, at Detroit, and drove in a career-high six runs on July 17, 1998 against Kansas City.
Wilson also holds the distinction — rare for a catcher — of recording the first straight steal of home in Mariners history, on Aug. 1, 1999, vs. Baltimore.
Mariners Offseason News/Transactions
- Nov. 1: Announced Chris Gwynn had been named the organizations Director of Player Development with the responsibility of overseeing all aspects of the Mariners minor league system.
- Nov. 2: Outrighted INF Luis Rodriguez, who opted to become a free agent (Rodriguez appeared in 44 games for the Mariners in 2011).
- Nov. 3: Outrighted LHP Anthony Vasquez to AAA Tacoma. Vasquez, 25, made seven starts for the Mariners in 2011, going 1-6 with an 8.90 ERA (29 ER, 29.1 IP).
- Nov. 18: Added OF Chih-Hsien Chiang, INF Francisco Martinez and INF Carlos Triunfel to the 40-man roster.
- Nov. 28: Named infielder/outfielder Vinnie Catricala (High Desert/Jackson) Minor League Player of the Year, RHP Taijuan Walker (Clinton) Pitcher of the Year and Arizona League trainer Randy Roetter Player Development Staff Member of the Year.
- Dec. 2: Announced the 2012 minor league coaching staff, including returning managers Daren Brown (Tacoma), Jim Pankovits (Jackson) and Eddie Menchaca (Clinton); announced that Pedro Grifol, the Mariners director of minor league operations in 2011, will manage High Desert, that Jose Moreno will manage Pulaski after spending last season with High Desert, that Rob Mummau will take over as manager for Everett, and that Mike Kinkade will manage the Mariners in the Arizona League after coaching in Everett last season.
- Dec. 12: Announced that RHP Dan Cortes and C Chris Gimenez would not be offered 2012 contracts.
- Dec. 13: Signed 11 players to minor league contracts for the 2012 season, including OF Darren Ford, RHP Matt Fox, LHP Steve Garrison, RHP Jarrett Grube, LHP Sean Henn, RHP Josh Kinney, RHP Jeff Marquez, RHP Scott Patterson, C Guillermo Quiroz, INF Luis Rodriguez and LHP Phillippe Valiquette.
- Jan. 30: Signed LHP George Sherrill, who previously pitched for the club from 2004-07, to a one-year contract.
- Jan. 3: Hired Jeff Pentland as hitting coach of the Tacoma Rainiers.
- Jan. 5: Signed Japanese right-handed pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma as a free agent.
- Jan. 10: Signed right-handed pitcher Aaron Heilman to a minor league contract with an invite to major league spring training.
- Jan. 11: Signed Japanese infielder Munenori Kawasaki to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training.
- Jan. 14: Traded RHP Michael Pineda and pitching prospect Jose Campas to the New York Yankees in exchange for C Jeseus Montero and Hector Noesi.
- Jan. 17: Signed RHPs Brandon League and Shawn Kelley and LHP Jason Vargas to one year contracts; announced that former Mariners Randy Johnson (1989-98) and Dan Wilson (1994-05) would be inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame July 28 at Safeco Field.