Mariners re-sign Chris Gimenez; could Michael Cuddyer be next?
Reports have Seattle in bidding for Twins slugger, but GM Jack Zduriencik mum.
Seattle Times staff reporter
While intrigue continues to swirl around the Mariners' pursuit of possible big-name targets like Prince Fielder, Michael Cuddyer and Yu Darvish, they made a smaller move Wednesday.
Just two days after they declined to offer a 2012 contract to catcher Chris Gimenez, making him a free agent, the Mariners re-signed Gimenez to a major-league contract.
Turns out the Mariners wanted Gimenz all along, but there was "just some procedural stuff" that necessitated the nontendering, said general manager Jack Zduriencik.
Doing it this way gives the Mariners some control over Gimenez's salary if he ends up in the minor leagues. Gimenez's return leaves the Mariners' 40-man roster at 37. Gimenez, who turns 29 on Dec. 27, hit .203 in 24 games last year and also played for Seattle manager Eric Wedge in Cleveland. He can also play first base and the outfield.
"We like the guy a lot," Zduriencik said. "He's a good makeup guy, a good teammate, and he brings you versatility. He's athletic and can play multiple positions."
Zduriencik declined to comment on any specific free agents amid new reports that the Mariners are bidding for outfielder Michael Cuddyer. The right-handed Cuddyer, who turns 33 next March, hit .284 last year for the Twins with 20 homers and 70 runs batted in.
With the Twins likely bowing out after signing outfielder Josh Willingham this week, the Rockies are considered the front-runner for Cuddyer. The Phillies and Reds are also believed to have interest in Cuddyer, said to be seeking a three-year deal in the $30 million range.
Fielder's agent, Scott Boras, said this week that his client will sign before the end of the year, with speculation that the agent is seeking a 10-year deal. The Mariners remain in contention, but it's hard to read just how far they are willing to go, in years and salary, to land Fielder.
"A lot has been said and written, some true, some not true, some accurate and some exaggerated," Zduriencik said. "In the end, it's not in our best interest to talk about free agents."
Wednesday was the deadline for teams to post bids for Darvish, the 25-year-old Japanese pitching star of the Nippon Ham Fighters. The Fighters have four business days to decide whether to accept the high bid. If they do, the winning team has 30 days to negotiate a contract with Darvish. The right-hander was 58-22 with a 1.81 earned-run average in four seasons.
Announcement of the winning bid could come quickly, and the Fighters are widely expected to accept. It is not known if the Mariners put in a bid.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @StoneLarry
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