PITTSBURGH — Veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit turned 39 on Tuesday and, for his birthday, the Mariners traded him to Toronto for reliever Drew Storen and cash considerations.
Both clubs announced the trade after their games. It amounts to a swap of pitchers having disappointing years. Storen and Benoit will each be free agents after the season, and the Mariners received cash to cover the difference in salaries.
Storen has roughly $2.9 million remaining on his salary of $8,375,000, while Benoit is still owed about $2.6 million on his salary of $8 million.
"Obviously, this has not been Drew’s best season," general manager Jerry Dipoto said, "but he is closely linked to a run of great success pitching in the back end of very good bullpens.
"Hopefully this serves as a change of scenery and over the next two months we can get him back on track."
Storen, 28, was 1-3 with three saves and a 6.21 ERA this season for Toronto in 38 appearances. He was designated for assignment Sunday, one day after giving up three runs in one inning in a 14-5 loss to the Mariners at the Rogers Centre.
Prior to his season, Storen compiled a 3.02 ERA with 95 saves in 355 games over six seasons at Washington. He had 29 saves in 34 chances last season for the Nationals before a January trade sent him to Toronto for outfielder Ben Revere.
Benoit also struggled for much of this season while battling shoulder problems. He heads to Toronto with a 5.18 ERA in 26 games, but he has six scoreless outings in his last seven appearances.
The Mariners acquired Benoit on Nov. 12, 2015 from San Diego for two minor-league players: right-handed pitcher Enyel De Los Santos and infielder Nelson Ward.
JAMMED SHOULDER COSTS HEREDIA
It appears a jammed shoulder prevented outfielder Guillermo Heredia from making his making his major-league debut this week for the Mariners.
Heredia, 25, suffered the injury Saturday night while diving into a base in Triple-A Tacoma’s 4-1 victory at Salt Lake (Angels). He did not play in the Rainiers’ victories Sunday and Monday at Salt Lake.
Manager Scott Servais previously said the Mariners planned to recall an extra position player Tuesday in order to extend their bench as the headed into a stretch of five straight interleague road games.
All signs pointed to that promotion being Heredia, a Cuban defector who signed in March. He is batting .350 with a .395 on-base percentage in 25 games at Tacoma following his June 23 promotion from Double-A Jackson.
Instead, the Mariners chose to make no move prior to their game at Pittsburgh.
"We’re going to stay with what we’ve got," Servais said. "Obviously, it’s a crazy week. A lot of stuff going on throughout baseball. We’re just going to hold still right now until I get a call and told what we’re going to do."
Shortstop Ketel Marte was scheduled to resume light baseball activities — playing catch, etc. — Tuesday in Seattle for the first time since being diagnosed last week with mononucleosis.
"He is feeling better," Servais said, "but his weight loss is down pretty significantly (seven or eight pounds). So we have to get him up and eating…No timetable."
Utilityman Shawn O’Malley started Tuesday at shortstop for the seventh time in nine days. He will continue to share time with Luis Sardinas, recalled last Friday, until Marte returns.
"O has done a nice job," Servais said. "Our positioning is important for these guys. Getting them in the right spots so they don’t have to make the fantastic play. Just make the average play, the routine play, and turn them into outs.
"It’s not ideal, but it is what it is, and we’re going to stay positive. We’re going to work those guys (in early drills), too."
The Mariners are drawing fire for their new financial policy regarding dues and tips from visiting players to clubhouse personnel at Safeco Field.
The new policy directs that 60 percent of all dues collected be placed in an account managed by the Mariners. The remaining 40 percent and all tips go to visiting clubhouse manager Jeff Bopp and his staff.
Prior to this year, the Mariners operated like all other clubs by allowing the visiting clubhouse manager to oversee the entire operation. Club officials say they instituted the change to monitor the flow of money in the clubhouse.
The Chicago White Sox protested the new policy following their July 18-20 series at Safeco by refusing to pay dues or tips. They did collect the money and pledged to distribute it if-and-when the Mariners return to the traditional policy.
The White Sox’s action was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Other visiting clubs also balked at the Mariners’ new approach but did not withhold dues or tips. That could change in future series in light of the White Sox’s action.
Typically, players pay $70 a day in non-mandatory dues, which defray the cost of expenses, such as clubhouse meals. Any money remaining after expenses goes to the clubhouse manager.
Many players tip above that amount, and that money is usually distributed to the clubhouse manager’s staff.
Right-hander Taijuan Walker is scheduled to throw 45-50 pitches over three innings Wednesday in a simulated game as the final test in his recovery from tendinitis in his right foot before departing on a minor-league rehab assignment.
"He says the foot feels fine," Servais said, "but he needs to get after it in that simulated game. I don’t want him to just flip balls in there. He needs to get after it and treat it like a real game."
A simulated game typically consists of a pitcher throwing roughly 15 pitches to hitters, who are permitted to swing. The pitcher then rests for several minutes, to simulate the time when his own club would batter, before returning to the mound.
Walker first experienced the problem in a June 14 start at Tampa Bay. He made three more starts before being placed on the disabled list after lasting just four innings on July 5 at Houston.
Couldn’t make it last weekend to Cooperstown? Don’t see yourself getting there in the near future? You can still get an up-close look at Ken Griffey Jr.’s Hall of Fame plaque.
The Hall of Fame is allowing the Mariners to display the plaque on Aug. 5-6 at Safeco Field in conjunction with the club’s ceremonies to retire Griffey’s No. 24.
Those attending the games will have the opportunity to take pictures of the plaque: on Aug. 5 from 5:10 p.m. until the end of the game; and on Aug. 6 from 6:45 p.m. until the end of the game.
The Mariners also announced a limited photo opportunity on Aug. 6 for fans who don’t have tickets to either of those two games — but there’s a catch. You have to have a ticket to the photo op, and only 750 tickets will be made available.
Those photo-op tickets are free and are available online on a first-come, first-served basis at noon on Thursday (July 28) at www.mariners.com/griffey. They will not be available at team stores or Safeco Field.
The photo-op tickets will be distributed on a "delayed delivery" basis, i.e., they can be printed at home but not until 24 hours prior to the event. Those with tickets can get photos of the plaque on Aug. 6 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Peoria became the third affiliate in the Mariners’ system to clinch a postseason berth Monday when it posted a 4-3 walk-off victory over second-place Surprise (Royals) in the Arizona Rookie League.
Joseph Rosa’s two-out single in the 12th inning scored Brayan Hernandez on the final day of the first-half schedule. Rosa, 19, and Hernandez, 18, are Dominican natives who were signed in 2014 as non-drafted free agents.
Peoria (16-12) finished two games ahead of Surprise in the Arizona League West Division. The second-half schedule started Tuesday.
Double-A Jackson and Lo-A Clinton previously clinched postseason berths.
Short-A Everett third baseman Nick Zammarelli was picked as the Northwest League player of the week for July 18-24 after .393 (11-for-28) with two homers and eight RBIs in seven games.
The Mariners selected Zammarelli, 21, in the eighth round last month in the MLB Draft. He is batting .308 overall in 34 games with eight doubles, four homers and 20 RBIs.
Zammarelli is the 16th minor-league player in the Mariners’ system to win a weekly award, and the fourth Everett player.
It was eight years ago Wednesday — July 27, 2008 — that long-time Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus received the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y.
It was five years ago Wednesday — July 27, 2011 — that the Mariners ended a franchise-record 17-game losing streak with a 9-2 victory over the Yankees in New York. Ichiro Suzuki and Mike Carp each had four hits in the game.
Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez returned to the starting lineup after being scratched Sunday in Toronto because of a sore neck… it’s no surprise, but lefty Wade Miley, after two straight quality starts, will remain in the rotation for Saturday’s game against the Cubs in Chicago…reliever Nick Vincent is long-tossing out to 150-to-180 feet, according to manager Scott Servais, is his recovery from a strained muscle in his middle back. Servais said Vincent, out since June 26, should be ready to pitch soon from a mound.
The Mariners conclude their two-game series against the Pirates at 4:05 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Left-hander James Paxton (3-4 with a 4.18 ERA) will face Pittsburgh right-hander Gerrit Cole (5-6, 2.99). The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.
The Mariners have another open date Thursday before opening a three-game weekend series Friday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners