Mariners reliever David Aardsma becomes free agent, could re-sign with Seattle
Mariners relief pitcher David Aardsma became a free agent Monday but could re-sign with Seattle. Aardsma had Tommy John surgery in July and isn't expected to pitch again until well into the 2012 season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Mariners pitcher David Aardsma says he hopes his time with the team hasn't ended.
Aardsma, 29, opted to become a free agent Monday after the Mariners informed him he'd cleared waivers and would be taken off the 40-man roster. Rather than accept a minor-league assignment, Aardsma, who will likely miss at least half the 2012 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, went the free-agent route and will look to sign an incentive-laden deal with somebody.
One of those potential teams could be the Mariners. Throughout last season, team sources did not rule out signing some type of deal with Aardsma, knowing he'd have to first become a free agent.
"This in no way rules out me coming back to Seattle," Aardsma said Monday. "I didn't want to have to go this route, but realistically, given the financial situation and my own circumstances, I could understand why the team would make the decision that it did."
Aardsma earned $4.5 million last season despite not throwing a pitch and was again arbitration eligible. Current arbitration rules don't allow for teams to offer a salary cut of more than 20 percent to any player, which all but ruled out the possibility of the Mariners re-signing Aardsma before he became a free agent.
Now, any team can offer Aardsma any amount of money.
"I've really enjoyed my time in Seattle," Aardsma said. "(General manager) Jack Zduriencik gave me my first real chance to be a big-league closer and that's not something I'll ever forget."
In two seasons, Aardsma compiled 60 saves — fourth most in club history. He underwent hip labrum surgery last January and then opted for the Tommy John ligament transplant surgery in his right elbow on July 22 after arm trouble slowed his progress.
Aardsma estimates he'd need between 11 and 13 months to come back from his latest surgery, putting his current return at some point between next June and August.
Gray claimed by Twins
Mariners reliever Jeff Gray was claimed off waivers Monday by the Minnesota Twins.
Gray, who turns 30 in a few weeks, went 0-1 with a 4.89 earned-run average and one save in 24 games for the Mariners. Gray was put through waivers so the team could remove him from the 40-man roster.
Franklin Gutierrez and Adam Moore were also both taken off the 60-day disabled list by the team and added to the roster, which now sits at 37 with three vacant spots.
No Gold Glove for Ichiro
Seattle's run of consecutive Gold Glove award winners finally came to an end Monday when no Mariners were named as nominees for the prizes, which are voted on by coaches.
The Mariners had managed a Gold Glove winner every year since 1987 — longest run in the majors — starting when pitcher Mark Langston received the honor.
Ichiro won his 10th consecutive Gold Glove last season, but this year did not receive a nomination for the first time in his big-league career.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or email@example.com
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