Mariners buy out Gutierrez, Saunders

ryan.divish@thenewstribune.comNovember 2, 2013 

Injuries and illnesses limited center fielder Franklin Gutierrez to about 35 percent of Seattle’s games after he signed a four-year contract following his successful 2009 season.

CHARLIE RIEDEL/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

As expected, the Seattle Mariners declined their 2014 contract options on outfielder Franklin Gutierrez and left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders, making both players free agents.

Gutierrez had a club option for 2014 of $7.5 million with a $500,000 buyout. Saunders had a mutual option for 2014 of just over $8 million dollars with a $900,000 buyout.

After a promising 2009 season in which he hit .283 with 18 homers and 70 RBI, Gutierrez signed a four-year, $20.25 contract. But he never could replicate that first season with Seattle because he couldn’t stay healthy.

He battled injuries over the past three seasons appearing in 173 of the Mariners’ 486 games. He was placed on the disabled list six times for a variety of ailments. In 41 games in the 2013 season, he hit .248 with seven doubles and 10 home runs.

Saunders was signed just before spring training to bolster the pitching staff and bring a veteran presence, but he never found consistency during the 2013 season. The left-hander posted an 11-16 record with a 5.26 ERA. Even if the Mariners had exercised their side of the mutual option for 2014, there was a strong chance that Saunders might have tested the free agent market instead.

In another roster move, right-hander Stephen Pryor was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list after having season-ending surgery on his lower back on Aug. 9. He tore the muscle early in the season and his attempts to come back from the injury were difficult. He appeared in seven games, all in April.

MARINERS TIDBITS

The Mariners confirmed that former catcher and MLB Network television analyst Dave Valle met with general manager Jack Zduriencik to discuss the team’s open managerial position. Zduriencik has met with a handful of candidates, but no formal interviews have taken place. … Reliever Carson Smith, who was scheduled to play in the Fall Stars game of the Arizona Fall League, has been scratched from the game. Smith, a hard-throwing, side-arm reliever, has reached his innings threshold for the season.

SHORT HOPS

The World Series champion Red Sox have exercised their $13 million option on Bellingham Prep graduate Jon Lester, their ace left-hander. … All-Star closer Joe Nathan became a free agent after declining a $9 million contract option in his deal with the Rangers. … Derek Jeter, 39, agreed to a $12 million, one-year deal with the Yankees. … The Athletics exercised their $7.5 million club option for center fielder Coco Crisp. … The Tigers are declining their $3.25 million option on reliever Jose Veras. … Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez became a free agent after the Indians exercised his $8 million club option for next season and Jimenez voided it. … The Mets declined a $25 million option on injured pitcher Johan Santana and will pay him a $5.5 million buyout. … Pirates left-hander Wandy Rodriguez has exercised his $13 million player option for 2014.

Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 ryan.divish@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish McClatchy news services contributed to this report.

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