Seattle Mariners

Former Seattle Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. tops 37-player ballot for 2016 Hall of Fame

It’s time for the Kid.

Mariners icon Ken Griffey Jr. headlines a 37-player ballot for the Hall of Fame, released Monday, and let’s face it: This should be a slam dunk, right?

Griffey, now 45, ended his 22-year career in 2010 as a 13-time All-Star outfielder who hit 630 homers, which ranks sixth on baseball’s career list.

He was also a 10-time Gold Glove recipient for defensive excellence and won seven Silver Slugger Awards in recognition of his offensive prowess.

The 2016 ballot also includes another franchise cornerstone in designated hitter Edgar Martinez, who is one of 22 returning candidates.

Martinez, 52, is back for a seventh try after being cited last season on 27 percent of the returned ballots. Candidates remain on the ballot if they receive 5 percent but require 75 percent to be inducted into the Hall.

But the clock is ticking on Martinez, who currently serves as the Mariners’ hitting coach. Candidates can only remain on the ballot for 10 years, although they are subsequently eligible for consideration by the Veterans Committee.

Griffey projects as the first player to enter the Hall in recognition primarily for his Seattle achievements. He batted .292 over 13 seasons with the Mariners while hitting 417 homers and getting 1,216 of his 1,836 RBIs.

Left-handed pitcher Randy Johnson was inducted last July, but his plaque shows him wearing an Arizona cap.

In addition to Griffey and Martinez, the ballot contains three players who spent a portion of their career with the Mariners: left-handed pitcher Mike Hampton (1993), designated hitter Mike Sweeney (2009-10), and outfielder Randy Winn (2003-05).

The ballots are being mailed this week to eligible voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The results will be announced Jan. 6 on MLB Network.

Griffey is viewed as having a chance to challenge Tom Seaver’s 1992 record of being cited on 98.84 percent of the returned ballots.

ACTA AT THIRD?

The Mariners appear close to hiring Manny Acta to be their third base coach, which would add a veteran manager under first-time skipper Scott Servais.

An announcement regarding Acta could come as soon as Tuesday. If hired, the Mariners would still have openings for a first base coach and a bullpen coach.

Acta, 46, spent parts of six seasons as the manager at Washington (2007-09) and Cleveland (2010-12) before becoming an analyst at ESPN and ESPN Desportes. His overall managerial record was 372-518.

Houston signed Acta as a 17-year-old in 1986, and he played six seasons in their minor league system as a first baseman and outfielder. He spent 1991 as a player/coach before switching the following season to a full-time coaching career.

Acta reached the majors in 2002 as the third-base coach at Montreal under manager Frank Robinson. Acta held that position for three years before taking a similar position in 2005 with the New York Mets under manager Willie Randolph.

Washington hired Acta as its manager in 2007.

GM MEETINGS UNDER WAY

Having already pulled off the offseason’s first major trade, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto is now in a setting that he believes facilitates deal-making.

The general managers are holding their annual meetings this week in Boca Raton, Florida.

“To me, the market is always moving,” Dipoto said. “The general managers meetings, years ago, used to be where everything got set up for the winter meetings.

“Now, quite frankly, the general managers’ meetings are where we generally culminate, or bring to fruition, a lot of the conversations that we’ve been having since the season ended.”

The Mariners completed a six-player deal last Thursday with Tampa Bay that netted right-handed pitcher Nathan Karns, lefty reliever C.J. Riefenhauser and minor league outfielder Boog Powell.

In return, the Mariners sent shortstop Brad Miller, first baseman Logan Morrison and righty reliever Danny Farquhar to the Rays.

One day later, the Mariners acquired outfielder Daniel Robertson, a defensive specialist, in a waiver claim from the Los Angeles Angels.

“When you get the opportunity to make trades that fit,” Dipoto said, “you make them.”

More opportunities figure to be available this week in Boca Raton.

ROSTER NUMBERS

The moves last week leave the Mariners with 37 players on their 40-man roster and create some necessary roster flexibility.

Clubs have until Nov. 20 to add minor league players to their 40-man roster who would otherwise be eligible for selection on Dec. 10 in the Rule 5 Draft at the winter meetings in Nashville, Tennessee.

For example, the Mariners didn’t place Powell on their 40-man roster after acquiring him in last week’s trade. But they figure to do so before the deadline because he is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

Generally, players not on a 40-man roster are eligible for the draft after four years if they were 19 or older when they signed their first professional contract. If they were younger than 19, they become eligible after five years.

MINOR LEAGUE FREE AGENTS

Lefty reliever Lucas Luetge became a minor league free agent last week after spending most of the last three seasons at Triple-A Tacoma.

Minor league players generally become eligible for free agency if their contract has been renewed six times or if they have spent all or part of seven seasons on a minor league roster.

Such free agents are often referred to as six-year free agents.

The list also included first baseman Ji-Man Choi, third baseman Leury Bonilla, first baseman Jordy Lara and left-handers Anthony Fernandez and James Gillheeney.

Players are eligible to re-sign with their former organization.

Here is the complete list as compiled by MiLB.com:

▪ Triple-A Tacoma: Bonilla, Choi, Luetge and right-handed pitcher Kyle Schepel.

▪ Double-A Jackson: Fernandez, right-hander Oliver Garcia, Gillheeney, right-handed pitcher Moises Hernandez, Lara, third baseman Aderlin Rodriguez and right-handed pitcher Richard Vargas.

▪ Advanced-A Bakersfield: right-handed pitcher Ramon Morla and catcher Carlton Tanabe.

▪ Low-A Clinton: outfielder Arby Fields, first baseman Pat Leyland and outfielder Burt Reynolds.

▪ Short-A Everett: left-handed pitcher Joselito Cano.

▪ Dominican Academy: RHP Luis Jimenez.

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