Mariners sign Cook for bullpen depth

Righty looks to regain All-Star form after down season with A's, Red Sox

January 7th, 2016

SEATTLE -- Right-handed reliever Ryan Cook, a 2012 American League All-Star who endured a rough season last year with the A's and Red Sox, became the latest "bounce-back" candidate signed by the Mariners.

Cook, a 28-year-old free agent, signed a one-year Major League deal on Thursday. The Mariners had an open spot on their 40-man roster after releasing right-hander Anthony Bass so he could sign with a Japanese team earlier in the day. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Cook's deal is for $1.1 million.

"We're looking forward to seeing Ryan in a Mariners uniform," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "He remains just 28 years old and is just one season removed from being one of the more effective setup relievers in the American League. His presence enhances both our bullpen depth and overall upside."

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Cook was a key member of the A's bullpen from 2012-14 when he posted a 2.60 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with 17 saves in 196 appearances and racked up 197 strikeouts in 190 2/3 innings. His ERA during that span was the eighth-lowest among AL relievers with at least 190 appearances, and he held opponents to a .198 batting average, which was fifth among AL relievers.

But the native of Clovis, Calif., spent much of last year in Triple-A after getting hit hard in nine Major League outings and putting up an 18.69 ERA with 18 earned runs and 20 hits in 8 2/3 innings. He made four appearances with the A's -- as well as posting a 4.05 ERA in 30 relief outings for Triple-A Nashville -- before being traded to the Red Sox on July 31.

Cook gave up just two hits with no runs and 10 strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings for Triple-A Pawtucket, but he didn't fare well in five appearances for the Red Sox, as he surrendered 13 earned runs and 13 hits -- including four home runs -- in just 4 1/3 innings.

Cook earned All-Star honors with Oakland in 2012, when he went 6-2 with a 2.09 ERA and 14 saves in 71 outings.

He was claimed off waivers by the Cubs on Nov. 6 after the Red Sox designated him for assignment, then became a free agent after the Cubs non-tendered him on Dec. 3.

Dipoto has brought in several other buy-low candidates coming off down seasons, including relievers Steve Cishek and Justin De Fratus, center fielder Leonys Martin and catcher Chris Iannetta.

Cook is the fifth free agent signed by Seattle this offseason, joining Iannetta, De Fratus, Cishek and outfielder Nori Aoki, while the club also re-signed two of its own free agents in right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma and outfielder Franklin Gutierrez.