PEORIA, Ariz. —First baseman Jesus Montero’s often-chaotic ride of four-plus years with the Mariners ended Monday when he was acquired by Toronto in a waiver claim.
The Mariners placed Montero, who was out of options, on waivers after choosing Dae-Ho Lee to fill their need for a right-handed-hitting first basemen. Montero, 26, batted .237 (9-for-38) in 21 spring games.
The move clears a spot on the 40-man roster for reliever Joel Peralta, who was told Sunday by club officials that he will break camp with the big-league club.
Montero batted .247 with 24 homers and 92 RBIs in 208 games for the Mariners after arriving with pitcher Hector Noesi from the New York Yankees in a Jan. 20, 2012 trade for pitchers Michael Pineda and Jose Campos.
When acquired, Montero was ranked as the No. 6 overall prospect by Baseball America. He only occasionally showed flashes of that promise amid a series of on- and off-field problems that resulted in suspensions.
Montero reformed his personal life after being suspended late in the 2014 season for his conduct in an on-field confrontation with a scout while on a minor-league rehab assignment.
The result was a breakout year at Triple-A Tacoma, where he was picked as a Pacific Coast League all-star. But he failed to carry that success into the big leagues: he batted just .223 last year with five homers and 19 RBIs in 38 games.
Right-hander Edwin Diaz, who is likely to open the season at Double-A Jackson, is the highest-rated Mariners’ prospect in a list of 175 compiled by John Sickels (@minorleagueball) for www.sbnation.com.
Diaz, 21, ranks 87th and drew a Grade B rating. He was a combined 7-10 with a 3.82 ERA last season at Hi-A Bakersfield and Double-A Jackson.
The only other Mariners prospect on the list is shortstop Drew Jackson at No. 172 with a Grade B-minus, although Sickels cited two more among those who received consideration: pitcher Nick Neidert and outfielder Tyler O’Neill.
These are updated ratings from Sickels, whose annual Baseball Prospect Book is generally viewed as one of the game’s top prospect reference sources. Like many rankings, Sickels places Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager at No. 1.
Seager is the younger brother of Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager.
It was 27 years ago Tuesday — March 29, 1989 — that the Mariners announced outfielder Ken Griffey Jr., the first overall pick in the 1987 draft, had survived the final round of roster cuts and would open the season in the big leagues.
Griffey, 19, would be the youngest player that season on any opening-day roster.
He batted .264 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 127 games and finished third in the Rookie of the Year balloting behind two pitchers: Baltimore’s Gregg Olson and Kansas City’s Tom Gordon.
Griffey will be inducted July 24 into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and will have his number 24 retired by the Mariners in an Aug. 6 pre-game ceremony at Safeco Field.
The Mariners plan to roll their rotation through the early part of the season, which means open dates will merely provide an extra day of rest. Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Wade Miley will start April 4-6 in the season-opening series at Texas. Taijuan Walker will start the home opener on April 8 against Oakland with Nathan Karns and Hernandez on April 9-10 in rounding out the series at Safeco Field…The Mariners also have their rotation lined up for their remaining spring games: Walker starts Tuesday against Cleveland in Goodyear; Hernandez on Wednesday vs. San Diego at Peoria Stadium; Iwakuma on Thursday (on an open date) in a minor-league game; Miley on Friday against Colorado at Peoria Stadium; and Karns on Saturday in the spring finale against the Rockies in Scottsdale.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners