Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik continues to make moves to improve the 25-man roster. On Sunday, he announced that the team has acquired shortstop Brendan Ryan from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for LHP Maikal Cleto.
"In acquiring Brendan Ryan we have added a player who is athletic, has played multiple positions, has been an everyday Major League shortstop, and is playoff tested," said Zduriencik. "We look forward to Brendon's contributions as well as him competing for a starting position."
Ryan, 28, appeared in a career-high 139 games with the Cardinals last season, batting .223 (98x439) with 19 doubles, 3 triples, 2 home runs and 36 RBI. He led Major League shortstops with 3.43 assists per game and a .874 zone rating. He was also 5th in double plays turned and 10th in fielding percentage among ML shortstops.
His low offensive numbers were due to wrist surgery he had just a few weeks into spring training.
"I don't want to make excuses, but it didn't help," Ryan said. "I came back around March 20 or 21st. I didn't get as many at-bats in Spring Training as I normally would. When the season started, I didn't feel right. I just felt lost. And then I lost my confidence."
Ryan was solid in 2009, hitting .292 (114x390) with 19 doubles, 7 triples, 3 home runs and 37 RBI in 129 games with the Cardinals. He ranked among the top among the top 5 in the Majors in fielding percentage by shortstops (.984) and 3rd among NL shortstops in batting average.
The wrist now feels "perfect" according to Ryan, and he hopes with a normal spring training, he can be the hitter he once was.
"I'm a tablesetter than likes to get on base and steal bases," he said. "I'm a gap to gap hitter. And I think I can get back to the way I was in 2009."
Cleto, 21, went 4-9, 6.16 ERA (70 ER, 102.1 IP) in 23 games (21 GS) with High Desert in 2010. Following the season he pitched for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League, going 2-1, 7.91 in 6 starts. He was added to the Major League 40-man roster on Nov. 19. He was acquired by the Mariners in December 2008 as part of an 11-player trade that also brought Franklin Gutierrez and Jason Vargas to the Mariners.
"We gave up a very good arm to get this player," Zduriencik said.
Zduriencik wouldn't say that the trade for Ryan guarantees a move of Chone Figgins from second base back to third base. But did say, he and Eric Wedge and the field staff would hope to have discussions with players in the next week or two.
The addition of Ryan gives the Mariners plenty of depth and options. Ryan, who was a second baseman in college, would give the Mariners a solid player to start at second while top prospect Dustin Ackely gets more grooming Triple A Tacoma. Ryan also would be an upgrade defensively over Josh Wilson and could play shortstop when the oft-injured Jack Wilson misses games.
"It gives us versatility," Zduriencik said. "He's an athletic guy that can play multiple positions."