The Seattle Mariners went outside their organization Wednesday in selecting baseball lifer Rich Donnelly to serve as the new manager for the Tacoma Rainiers.
Donnelly, 67, is entering his 43rd season in pro ball. He spent the past three years as the manager at Single-A Brooklyn in the New York Mets’ organization.
Donnelly replaces interim manager John Stearns, who was elevated to third base coach for the Mariners.
The Mariners also announced Jaime Navarro (pitching coach) and Cory Snyder (hitting coach) will serve on Donnelly’s staff.
Tom Newberg and BJ Downie will return as the Rainiers’ trainers. Gabe Bourland was promoted from rookie league Peoria to serve as performance specialist.
Donnelly’s résumé includes 27 years as a big league coach with Texas, Pittsburgh, Florida and Colorado in addition to 10 years as a minor league manager in the Texas system before joining the Mets.
The Mariners announced staff appointments for their other full-season affiliates: James Horner as manager at Double-A Jackson, Eddie Menchaca at Single-A High Desert and Chris Prieto at Single-A Clinton.
SAUNDERS REACHES DEAL
Michael Saunders will be armed with a new contract sporting a hefty raise when he opens his bid next month in spring training to hold on to a starting job in the outfield.
Saunders, 27, avoided a possible arbitration hearing by reaching agreement on a one-year deal for $2.3 million. He made $512,600 last season, when he batted .236 with 12 homers and 46 RBI in 132 games.
The deal leaves the Mariners with two pending arbitration cases: first basemen/designated hitters Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison. Like Saunders, both are eligible for arbitration for the first time in their careers.
Smoak, 27, made $514,000 last season, when he batted .238 with 20 homers and 50 RBI in 131 games.
The Mariners acquired Morrison, 26, in a Dec. 11 trade with Miami for reliever Carter Capps. Morrison made $491,500 last year and batted .242 with six homers and 36 RBI in 85 games for the Marlins.
STILL MUM ON BUCK
Seattle has yet to announce catcher John Buck’s one-year deal for $1 million, although clubs typically withhold confirmation until the paperwork is filed with Major League Baseball and the union.
Buck, 33, is a 10-year veteran who batted .219 with 15 homers and 62 RBI in 110 games while spending most of last season with the Mets before an Aug. 27 trade sent him to the Pirates.
The Mariners must make a roster move when the Buck signing becomes official because they have no space on their 40-man roster.
WALKER RANKED NO. 2
Taijuan Walker, generally viewed as the top player in the Mariners’ farm system, is ranked by MLB.com as the No. 2 right-handed pitching prospect in its latest ratings. It ranked Arizona’s Archie Bradley at No. 1.
Walker, 21, was the 43rd overall pick in the 2010 draft. He was a combined 9-10 with a 2.93 earned-run average in 25 starts last season at Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma before ending his year with three big-league starts.