The Mariners made a 40-man roster move on Tuesday afternoon when they claimed outfielder Travis Witherspoon off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels.
In order to add Witherspoon to the 40-man roster, they had to make room by designating veteran catcher Henry Blanco for assignment. Seattle now has 10 days to trade, release or outright Blanco’s contract to the minors.
Witherspoon, 24, spent last season at Double-A Arkansas, hitting. 214 with 18 doubles, three triples, 11 homers and 38 RBI. Witherspoon can run, stealing 30 bases in 40 attempts in 129 games. He has 140 steals (33 caught stealing) in his minor league career, including a combined 110 steals since the start of the 2011 season.
In 2012, he split the season between Inland Empire (A) and Arkansas, batting a combined .268 with 80 runs, 13 homers, 48 RBI and 34 steals. He was a mid-season Cal League All-Star, and participated in the Arizona Fall League following the season.
Witherspoon, a native of Sumter, S.C., was selected by the Angels in the 12th round of the 2009 June Draft out of Spartanburg Methodist College in South Carolina.
It was not a surprise that Blanco was DFA'd. At age 42, he really has no future with the organization as a player. He was brought on to be a mentor for Mike Zunino and filled that role ably.
Blanco hit .125 (12-for-96) with 8 runs scored 2 doubles, 3 home runs and 14 RBI in 35 games with the Mariners after being signing as a Major League free agent on June 14. He also appeared in 15 games with the Blue Jays to begin the season, catching in 13 games, including 11 consecutive starts by knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Blanco is a veteran of 16 Major League seasons with Los Angeles (NL, 1997), Colorado (1999), Milwaukee (2000-2001), Atlanta (2002-2003), Minnesota (2004), Chicago (NL, 2005-2008), San Diego (2009), New York (NL, 2010), Arizona (2011-2012), Toronto (2013) and Seattle (2013).