Seattle ready to add Reese at shortstop
LARRY LARUE; The News Tribune
Last updated: January 4th, 2005 02:40 AM
The Seattle Mariners will continue retooling today, when they’ll likely announce the signing of free agent Pokey Reese as their opening night shortstop – a deal with significant consequences.
To make room in their 2005 budget for Reese, Seattle has sold the contract of veteran utilityman Jolbert Cabrera to a Japanese team that approached the Mariners last month.
And rookie infielder Jose Lopez, the 22-year-old who played 57 games in Seattle last season, almost certainly will begin the season in Class AAA Tacoma.
Rushed into service last year after just 74 games with the Rainiers, Lopez played shortstop and batted .232 in Seattle – and while the Mariners were impressed with his abilities, they didn’t think he was a natural shortstop.
Reese, 31, has played the position 293 games in the majors and last season was the Boston shortstop for 71 games. A career .248 hitter, Reese is a “small ball” candidate in the lineup, a player who can bunt and put the ball in play.
After making $1 million last year with the Red Sox, Reese will sign a one-year contract with the Mariners today that will nearly double that, pending the results of a physical.
It’s not the first time Seattle has pursued Reese. When then general manager Pat Gillick was forced into trading Ken Griffey Jr. after the 1999 season, one of the key players he asked for – and didn’t get from Cincinnati – was Reese.
“We’ve gone in a different direction, but we saw that Pokey can play shortstop,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “He made some unbelievable plays for us last season.”
With Reese on board, the Mariners are close to the 2005 budgeted payroll, and their search for a starting pitcher will move from the pursuit of free agents to a search for a viable trade.
That would likely have to involve one of two Seattle outfielders, Randy Winn or Raul IbaÃ±ez.
As for Reese, the Mariners were hardly his only suitors this offseason. Boston offered him arbitration, and three National League teams offered him contracts.
What the Mariners offered was the chance to be their starting shortstop, and that was the deal-maker.
An athletic infielder who has stolen as many as 38 bases in a season – and 25 or more four times in his eight-year career – Reese batted .221 last season in 244 at-bats. Over the past two years, injuries have held him to a total of 133 games.
The reports the Mariners received on Reese, however, led them to believe he’s capable of playing at least 135 games at shortstop next season.
Cabrera, 32, could have returned to the team in 2005 as a reserve, coming off a year in which he played 113 games and batted .270 while playing seven positions in Seattle.
When a Japanese team approached the Mariners about Cabrera, however, it was clear they planned to offer him a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract – and the Mariners saw a way to save salary and make a popular player happier. Larry LaRue:
http://www.thenewstribune.com/sports/st ... 0082c.html
I don't know about this. The biggest thing is the shot to Lopez.