PEORIA, Ariz. — The Mariners denied a rumor that surfaced Saturday that first baseman Jesus Montero had been sent to Triple-A Tacoma on an outright assignment after clearing waivers.
General manager Jerry Dipoto called the rumor "not true," but declined to comment further on Montero’s status.
The Mariners face a looming deadline in their choice between Montero, Dae-Ho Lee and Stefen Romero in choosing a right-handed-hitting complement to first baseman Adam Lind, a left-handed hitter.
Lee has an opt-out clause Sunday in his minor-league contract, which permits him to become a free agent if not on the 40-man roster. If Lee chooses to opt out, the Mariners have a short-term opportunity to respond by placing him on the roster.
The Mariners appeared to be leaning toward putting Lee on their 40-man roster. Doing so would effectively force them to make a move with Montero, who is out of options and can’t be sent to the minors unless he clears waivers.
The waiver process allows any club to claim Montero by accepting terms of his contract, which would mean keeping him on their 25-man active roster. If more than one club claims a player, the club with the poorer 2015 record wins the claim.
It is not known whether Montero is currently on waivers.
The Mariners could choose to risk losing Montero and Lee by keeping Romero as Lind’s partner. But Romero has an option remaining, which makes him a likelier candidate to be sent to Tacoma while the big-league club keeps Lee or Montero.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners