Stop the count at 21 days.
The Mariners stepped back into the trade market late Wednesday when they acquired right-handed pitcher Chase De Jong from the Los Angeles Dodgers for two minor-league players: shortstop Drew Jackson and pitcher Aneurys Zabala.
To clear space for De Jong on the 40-man roster, the Mariners designated utilityman Mike Freeman for assignment.
De Jong, 23, spent most of last season at Double-A Tulsa, where he was 14-5 with a 3.24 ERA in 25 starts. He closed last season by making — and winning — one start at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
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“Chase is a very polished young pitcher coming off a very solid season at Double-A,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “We see him as a guy knocking at the door as a major-league starting pitcher.”
Baseball America ranked De Jong as the Dodgers’ No. 25 prospect in its 2017 Prospect Handbook. He has three options remaining.
"There’s nothing better than average in De Jong’s repertoire," Baseball America reported in its Handbook, "but he’s a smart pitcher who understands how to attack hitters.
"His fastball sits at 88-92 mph and touches 93, and his curveball is an average pitch. His change-up, slider and cutter are all below-average to fringy, but he’s been able to have success by using an efficient delivery to throw strikes, change speeds and move the ball around to keep hitters off-balance."
The Mariners have made 40 trades since Jerry Dipoto became general manager on Sept. 28, 2015, including 14 involving 39 players since the end of last season.
Toronto selected De Jong in the second round of the 2012 draft and traded him to the Dodgers in 2015 for slot values in the international signing pool.
Jackson, 23, entered this spring ranked No. 3 in the TNT Top 10 list of the organization’s prospects after batting .258 last season in 124 games at Hi-A Bakersfield. He was a fifth-round pick in 2015.
Zabala, 20, is a Dominican native who was signed in the 2014 international market. He compiled a 2.88 ERA last season in 16 relief appearances for Peoria in the Arizona Rookie League while registering 28 strikeouts in 25 innings.
Freeman, 29, was one of three candidates this spring for one or two utility roles on the big-league roster after being acquired last Aug. 1 from Arizona in a waiver claim. He batted .305 in 26 games at Triple-A Tacoma and was 5-for-13 in 13 big-league games.
The move to designate Freeman turns the utility competition into a battle between incumbent Shawn O’Malley and newcomer Taylor Motter, who was obtained in a Nov. 18 trade from Tampa Bay.
The Mariners have seven days to reach a resolution with Freeman either through a trade, by releasing him or sending him through waivers. If he clears waivers, the Mariners are likely to send him to Tacoma on an outright assignment.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners