The Mariners judged three minor-league players, including two who spent time this season at Triple-A Tacoma, as being too valuable to risk losing next month in the Rule 5 Draft.
Infielder Ketel Marte, catcher John Hicks and right-handed pitcher Mayckol Guaipe were each added to the club’s 40-man roster prior to Thursday’s deadline for protecting draft-eligible payers.
The Mariners also acquired lefty reliever Edgar Olmos earlier in the day from Miami in a waiver claim. The four additions leave the club with one opening on its 40-man roster.
*Marte, 21, is a switch-hitter who spent most of the season at Double-A Jackson before getting a late promotion to Tacoma. Overall, he batted .304 in 128 games with four homers and 55 RBIs.
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*Hicks, 25, also split the season between Jackson and Tacoma. He batted .290 with five homers and 47 RBIs in 81 games. A defensive specialist, he has thrown out 137 of 288 base-stealers in four professional seasons.
*Guaipe, 24, spent the entire season at Jackson, where he was 1-3 with 12 saves and a 2.89 ERA in 40 games. He struck out 56 in 56 innings and allowed just 0.964 walks and hits per inning.
Among the draft-eligible players the Mariners chose not to protect are outfielder/first baseman Jordy Lara, outfield Jabari Blash and right-handed pitcher Jordan Pries.
Lara was the organization’s co-minor-league player of the year but spent just 33 games above Hi-A ball. The Mariners are betting, apparently, that Lara is not sufficiently advanced to remain in the big leagues for all of 2015.
Any draft-eligible player not added to the roster prior is now available for selection Dec. 11 in the draft at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.
Players are typically eligible for the draft after four seasons if they were 19 or older when they signed their first contract. Those 18 and younger usually don’t require protection for five years.
No player selected in the draft can be sent to the minors at any point over the next season without being offered back to his former club at one-half of the $50,000 selection price.
Olmos joins the list of bullpen candidates.
He was 3-3 with three saves and a 4.06 ERA this season in 51 minor-league appearances — 18 at Double-A Jacksonville and 33 at Triple-A New Orleans.
A third-round pick in 2008, Olmos has one option year remaining. His only big-league experience came in 2013, when he yielded four earned runs and seven hits in five innings over five outings.
Olmos allowed nine earned runs in 11 innings over nine appearances for Salt River in the just-completed Arizona Fall League. His career record of seven minor-league seasons is 15-37 with a 4.50 ERA in 179 games.
Utilityman Ty Kelly, who played 134 games last year at Tacoma, is heading to St. Louis in a trade that returned right-handed starter Sam Gaviglio to the Mariners.
Gaviglio, 24, was 5-12 with a 4.28 ERA this season in 25 games, including 24 starts, at Double-A Springfield. He was a fifth-round pick by the Cardinals in 2011 from Oregon State.
Kelly, 26, batted .263 this season for the Rainiers with 15 homers and 80 RBIs while spending time at second base, third base, left field and right field. He also served as a DH and even pitched on one occasion.
The Mariners acquired Kelly from Baltimore in a June 13, 2013 trade for outfielder Eric Thames. Kelly was the Orioles’ 13th-round pick in 2009.
The Mariners scooped up another off-field honor when they were cited by Major League Baseball as this year’s recipient of the Commissioner’s Award for Philanthropic Excellence.
The award stems from the club’s involvement with the “Refuse To Abuse” program to prevent domestic violence. Mariners Care received a $10,000 grant from MLB for winning the award.
“This is a vital societal issue that impacts the lives of individuals and families in harrowing ways,” commissioner Bud Selig said. “The efforts of the Mariners, who encourage fans to take a public stance against domestic violence, are exemplary.
The philanthropic award came one day after the Mariners were cited as MLB’s “Club Retailer of the Year” for its commitment to driving merchandise sales through creative marketing and merchandising efforts.