Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners notebook: Martin opens his winter season in the Dominican

New Mariners center fielder Leonys Martin, shown here playing for Texas, began his winter season Monday at Licey in the Dominican Republic.
New Mariners center fielder Leonys Martin, shown here playing for Texas, began his winter season Monday at Licey in the Dominican Republic. AP

New Mariners center fielder Leonys Martin is tuning up for next season by joining Licey just in time for its postseason push in the Dominican Winter League.

Martin, 27, opened his winter season Monday by going 1-for-4 for the Tigers in a 2-1 victory at Estrellas. The victory enabled Licey to finish the regular season in a first-place tie with Estrellas at 29-21.

Postseason begins Sunday. Mariners third-base coach Manny Acta is completing his third year as Licey’s general manager.

The Mariners acquired Martin along with right-handed swingman Anthony Bass in a Nov. 16 trade with Texas for reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, outfielder James Jones and utilityman Pat Kivlehan.

Martin batted just .219 last season in 95 games at Texas and lost his starting job in early July to Delino DeShields.

The Rangers demoted Martin in August to Triple-A Round Rock, and he underwent surgery shortly thereafter to remove the hamate bone in his right hand.

Martin returned in time to play Sept. 28 for the Rangers, but he was left off the club’s postseason roster and chose not to report, as assigned, to the Instructional League. He projects as the Mariners’ starting center fielder.

Other winter notables:

***Infielder Luis Sardinas, 22, is 12-for-31 (.387) in eight games at La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League. The Mariners obtained him in a Nov. 20 trade with Milwaukee for outfielder Ramon Flores.

Sardinas batted .231 in 79 big-league games over the last two seasons and projects as a candidate next season to win a utility role.

***Right-hander Jonathan Aro is 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA in 13 innings over 15 games for Licey. The Mariners acquired Aro, 25, in a Dec. 7 trade from Boston with pitcher Wade Miley for pitchers Carson Smith and Roenis Elias.

Aro appears likely to open next season at Triple-A Tacoma.

***Infielder Benji Gonzalez is batting just .190 in 29 games at Caguas in the Puerto Rican Winter League. The Mariners recently signed him to a minor-league deal.

Gonzalez, 25, is an eight-year pro who has never played in the majors. He spent most of last season at Double-A San Antonio in the San Diego system.


The Mariners are showing interest in right-handed reliever Ryan Cook, who became a free agent earlier this month when not tendered a contract by the Chicago Cubs.

Cook, 28, slipped badly last season after going 13-9 with 17 saves and a 2.60 ERA in 196 relief appearances from 2012-14 at Oakland.

After struggling last spring, Cook opened the season at Triple-A Nashville. Recalled in late April by Oakland, he gave up five runs in 4 1/3 innings over four outings and was sent back to Nashville.

The Athletics shipped Cook to Boston on July 31 in a cash transaction, but he gave up 14 runs in 4 1/3 innings over five appearances and was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

The Cubs acquired Cook in a Nov. 6 waiver claim.

Cook was Arizona’s 27th-round pick in the 2008 draft and made his big-league debut in 2011. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto served in various front-office capacities for the Diamondbacks in that time span.