Utilityman Carlos Rivero is leading the Venezuelan Winter League in homers, but that wasn’t enough to keep a spot on the Mariners’ 40-man roster.
Rivero, 26, became a free agent Tuesday when the Mariners opted not to offer him a contract prior to the 9 p.m. tender deadline for unsigned players. The club acquired Rivero in a Nov. 3 waiver claim from Boston.
The Mariners offered contracts to six players eligible for arbitration: first baseman Logan Morrison, outfielders Dustin Ackley, Austin Jackson and Michael Saunders, and relievers Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmsen.
All six players are now considered “signed” players, although their salaries are subject to arbitration if the two sides fail to reach an agreement.
By non-tendering Rivero, the Mariners gained an opening on their 40-man roster as they head into the Winter Meetings, which begin Monday in San Diego.
Technically, the club now has two openings, but it is expected to confirm the signing of free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz later this week. Once that signing becomes official, Cruz must be added to the 40-man roster.
The Mariners can now sign another free agent without making a corresponding roster move. Clubs must also have a roster vacancy in order to select a player in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 11.
Rivero is batting .291 overall in 36 games for the Lara Cardinals in Venezuela with a .368 on-base percentage and a .567 slugging percentage. He leads the VWL with 10 homers and ranks second with 32 RBIs.
The Mariners could attempt to retain Rivero by getting him to agree to a minor-league contract, but he is free to negotiate with all clubs. If he signs elsewhere, the Mariners are not eligible for compensation.