Like all players, Rob Brantly can count heads in a clubhouse and gauge a depth chart. He also knows he’s out of options, which means he realized he faced an iffy future with the Chicago White Sox.
“Given those circumstances,” he said, “I knew there was a good chance I’d go through waivers or be part of a trade. So at some point, I knew I might be part of a new team.
“It turned out it was the Mariners.”
The move happened Saturday afternoon when the Mariners acquired Brantly through a waiver claim. They cleared space on their 40-man roster by placing reliever Ryan Cook on the 60-day disabled list.
“Adding Rob is another move that’s geared toward building as much depth as possible,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “He’s still young and has major league experience. Catching depth is critical and tough to find.
“Now over the coming weeks we’ll assess where he fits best.”
It’s an interesting move by the Mariners precisely because Brantly, 26, is out of options. That seems to position him as an insurance acquisition in the event of an injury to Chris Iannetta or Steve Clevenger.
Brantly is a left-handed hitter who spent most of last season in the minors after suffering a broken left thumb in spring training. He was 4 for 33 in 14 games after getting recalled to the big leagues in September.
“It was a cross-up last year in a bullpen (workout),” he said. “I believed that a change-up was coming, and it turned out it was a 97 mph fastball. It didn’t feel too great.”
Brantly cleaned out his locker at the White Sox’s facility in Glendale shortly after learning of the trade and made the 12-mile drive to the Mariners’ complex.
“The Mariners contacted me and asked me if I wanted to come in today,” he said. “And … of course. Absolutely. I’m excited to get here and meet anybody.”
Recent examinations confirmed the Mariners’ fears regarding Cook, who suffered a strained right latissimus dorsi muscle in his back March 2 in the spring opener against the Padres.
Cook, 28, joined the Mariners as a free agent Jan. 7 after spending last season in the Oakland and Boston organizations.
Detroit selected Brantly in the third round of the 2010 draft and sent him to Miami in a 2012 trade. The White Sox acquired him in a December 2014 waiver claim.
Brantly played 98 games for Miami in 2012-13 and has a .225/.286/.317 career slash (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage). His minor league numbers are considerably better: .274/.321/.387 in 436 games in six seasons.
“He has a very good track record, offensively, in the minor leagues,” manager Scott Servais said. “He’s still young with some big-league time under his belt. It creates a little more depth for us there.”
Concern appears to be growing regarding lefty reliever Charlie Furbush’s slow bounce-back as he seeks to regain his form after missing the final two-plus months last year due to biceps tendinitis and a slight tear in his rotator cuff.
“Physically, he’s fine,” Servais said. “He’s just not bouncing back as quick. When I say bouncing back, it may be a little tight the day after he throws. He’s not jumping out and playing catch right away.
“It’s just taking him a little bit longer to get ready to go. I’m still anticipating him being on our club on opening day but, obviously, he’s got to pitch in games.”
Plans call for Furbush to throw at least one more session of live batting practice against minor league players before making his spring debut. The regular season starts in just over three weeks.
“You come out of the chute,” Servais said, “we go to Texas and you get Prince Fielder and a couple of those (left-handed) guys. I would like to have Charlie Furbush available (on back-to-back nights).”
The Mariners reassigned three players to minor-league camp prior to their two games: outfielder Mike Baxter and pitchers Danny Hultzen and Brad Mills. Hultzen and Mills are battling shoulder injuries; neither has pitched this spring. … Minor league infielders and outfielders reported Saturday. Physical examinations are scheduled for Sunday, and full-squad drills begin on Monday.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners