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Endy returns to Seattle on Minor League deal

Veteran outfielder appeared in 97 games last season with the Mariners

SEATTLE -- Veteran outfielder Endy Chavez, who played 97 games for the Mariners last year, has agreed to return on a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League camp, the club announced Thursday.

Chavez, who will turn 36 on Feb. 7, hit .267 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 266 at-bats, and he led all Mariners with a .295 batting average at Safeco Field last season.

Chavez will earn $750,000 in base salary if he makes the Major League club, according to contract figures obtained by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, plus another potential $450,000 in playing-time bonuses.

Like many veterans agreeing to Minor League deals, Chavez can request his release if he's not on the Major League roster on June 1.

Chavez signed with Seattle on a similar deal late in Spring Training last year after being released in mid-camp by the Royals, then wound up being called up by the Mariners two weeks into the season.

Chavez's 97 games last year were his most since 2008 with the Mets, as he filled in at all three outfield positions after injuries to Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Morse created playing time. Chavez also hit .357 (5-for-14) as a pinch-hitter, including a home run at Cleveland on May 20.

Chavez had a pair of eight-game hitting streaks during the season, and he also finished third on the team in outfield assists with four.

Chavez figures to provide added depth in the Mariners' outfield competition. The club has returnees Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, Gutierrez and Abraham Almonte, plus new additions Corey Hart and Logan Morrison. But Hart and Morrison are both returning from knee injuries, so it's not certain yet how much outfield they will play. Both are capable of playing first base and designated hitter as well.

Utility man Willie Bloomquist, who signed a two-year Major League contract as a free agent, is also capable of playing the outfield.

Chavez is a 12-year Major League veteran with a career .269/.307/.364 line, and he has played for the Royals, Expos, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rangers and Orioles, as well as a previous stint with Seattle in 2009.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.

Seattle Mariners, Endy Chavez