Wouldn’t you know it, Jerry is back at it again. Less than a week after addressing the media at the Mariners pre Spring Training Luncheon, Dipoto has already made good on one of his talking points, adding to the Mariners pitching depth with a pair of signings today.
First reported by Jon Heyman, Wei-Yin Chen and the Mariners have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. The 34 year old is coming off a few seasons with the Marlins that earned him some struggles and a bullpen demotion. Chen will be hoping to return to the form of his days as a starter for the Orioles and will be competing for the open fifth spot in the Mariners rotation. Other contenders currently include Justin Dunn, Nestor Cortes Jr., and top pitching prospect Logan Gilbert has an outside shot of earning it if he has an other worldly spring. Outside the fifth spot competition, the likely rotation will be Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, Kendall Graveman, and Justus Sheffield.
The addition of Chen may have closed the door on the possible return of Taijuan Walker to the Mariners, as fans have been clamoring to see him return to Seattle as a free agent. Talks started between Walker and the Mariners at the end of December, but seemed to end somewhat unceremoniously and there have been no reports of talks opening back up since.
In addition to Chen, the Mariners are also adding relief pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano. Hirano is coming off two seasons with the Diamondbacks where he earned a 3.47 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 119.1 innings, and seems a perfect fit for a Mariners team with super modest aspirations in 2020. The Mariners will likely have a revolving door in their bullpen in 2020 much like they did in 2019, so they don’t mind taking a shot on someone like Hirano. In addition, some linguistic solidarity between Hirano and fellow Japanese pitcher Yusei Kikuchi might go a little way to helping Kikuchi settle down after a rough first season stateside.
Expect a couple more small signings like this by the Mariners as they look to fill out the remaining spots on their roster in the coming days before players report to Peoria. Some trade speculation still circles around Kyle Seager as the third base market is still very much in flux, but a deal of that nature likely won’t happen until the season is already underway.
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