SEATTLE — Add Rafael Perez to the mix of candidates the Mariners will sift through this spring in an effort to find a replacement for veteran Joe Bemiel as their situational lefty reliever.
The Mariners signed Perez to a minor-league deal Thursday that includes an invitation to big-league camp. He had a 3.64 ERA in 338 games over seven seasons in Cleveland but hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2012.
Perez, 32, closed last year by posting a 1.77 ERA in 10 games at Triple-A Indianapolis in the Pittsburgh system. He began the year at Triple-A Round Rock in the Texas chain before pitching in the Mexican League.
Beimel remains an unsigned free agent after going 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA last season in 56 games.
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Manager Lloyd McClendon said he prefers a bullpen with at least two lefty relievers. Charlie Furbush appears to be a lock, while Perez should battle Lucas Luetge, Edgar Olmos and David Rollins for the other spot.
The Perez signing comes one day after the Mariners reached agreement with free-agent second baseman Rickie Weeks on a one-year contract for $2 million.
The deal with Weeks is contingent on a routine physical examination, which could happen as soon as Friday. Once official, the Mariners must make a move to clear space for him on their 40-man roster.
Perez is the 19th non-roster player invited by the Mariners to big-league camp, which opens Feb. 20 when pitchers and catchers report to the club’s complex in Peoria, Ariz.
Pitchers and catchers hold their first workout on Feb. 21. The first full-squad workout is Feb. 25.