Mariners sign veteran right-hander Chris Young
Chris Young, a 34-year-old right-hander released by the Washington Nationals, was signed by the Mariners and given a spot in their rotation. Young was an All-Star in 2007 but has dealt with several issues in recent years.
Seattle Times staff reporter
PEORIA, Ariz. – Within 48 hours, the Mariners lost a veteran left-handed pitcher slated for their starting rotation and acquired a veteran right-hander pitcher to put into his place.
So the main difference between the loss and acquisition? About 10 inches of height.
On Thursday morning, the organization announced it had signed Chris Young to a one-year major league deal. Young, who stands 6 feet 10, will be inserted into the Mariners’ rotation, taking the place Randy Wolf would have occupied had he not opted out of his contract Tuesday.
According to a report, Young received a one-year, $1.25 million contract with incentives worth up to $3.475 million.
To make room for Young, left-hander Bobby LaFromboise was designated for assignment.
The Mariners chose Young over a handful of unemployed veterans like Erik Bedard, Tommy Hanson and Scott Diamond.
“We were looking for someone that had experience, someone who could come in and be a stabilizer,” said general manager Jack Zduriencik. “Our guys saw Chris pitching in Florida and liked what they saw. He has been throwing the ball very well this spring.”
Young, 34, spent this spring with the Washington Nationals. He made four appearances, including two starts. He posted a 3.48 ERA (four earned runs in 101 / 3 innings pitched). Zduriencik had talked with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo a week ago, and Young’s name came up.
“Rizzo told me there was a chance that Young wouldn’t make the club,” Zduriencik said. “We got the heads up. We started talking with his agent after he opted out.”
Injuries have torpedoed Young’s career. After making the All-Star team in 2007, he failed to make more than 20 starts or avoid the disabled list in each season since.
He made just four combined starts in the 2010 and 2011 seasons for the Padres and Mets because of shoulder issues that included surgery to repair a torn labrum. In 2012, he made 20 starts for the Mets, going 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA.
Young spent all of the 2013 season in the Nationals’ minor-league system, but a neck issue shut him down in May. He made nine starts with Class AAA Syracuse, going 1-2 with a 6.81 ERA before going on the disabled list. He underwent a right shoulder thoracic outlet decompression procedure, which is a surgery to repair a nerve issue causing pressure on the shoulder, on June 11.
“Of course, there’s a risk with the past injuries,” Zduriencik said. “He was fine this spring. We know the history. They expect him to be fine. He said feels healthy, and he passed his physical.”
With youngsters Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton and Roenis Elias expected to be in the rotation, Zduriencik wanted a pitcher with experience.
“He brings a veteran presence,” Zduriencik said. “He’s a tremendously classy guy. We felt his level of experience with this group of players would be good. He’s a fly-ball pitcher, so our ballpark should play well for him.”
Wolf was told he made the Mariners’ rotation on Tuesday. But he opted out of his contract after he refused to sign a 45-day advanced release clause.
With Hisashi Iwakuma (finger strain), Taijuan Walker (shoulder bursitis) and Brandon Maurer (back and neck strain) recovering from injuries, but not expected to be ready for the start of the season, the Mariners’ starting pitching depth was an issue.
The other options to start in the rotation would have been right-handers Blake Beavan or Hector Noesi. The Mariners instead chose to look outside.
“It gives us some depth,” Zduriencik said. “Hopefully those guys come back soon and we have some tough decisions to make with our rotation.”
• The Mariners were off on Thursday, but three players participated in minor-league games. Paxton started a Class AAA game to stay on normal rest. He pitched six innings, giving up two runs on six hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Corey Hart got seven at-bats as the designated hitter, going 2 for 7. John Buck had a big game, going 4 for 5 with two homers, a double and two RBI.
• ESPN announced that former Mariners manager Eric Wedge will work as a television analyst on the opening-day game between the Red Sox and Orioles in Baltimore. Wedge was originally scheduled to serve as television analyst for the Mariners’ game against the Angels in Anaheim.
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373
On Twitter: @RyanDivish