Mariners add Clevenger in deal with O's
Trumbo, Riefenhauser headed to Baltimore in Dipoto's fifth trade
SEATTLE -- Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto finalized the trade to acquire catcher Steve Clevenger from the Orioles for first baseman Mark Trumbo on Wednesday, with left-handed reliever C.J. Riefenhauser also heading to Baltimore.
Clevenger, 29, has four years of team control remaining and doesn't begin the arbitration-eligibility process until next year, though he is out of Minor League options. He hit .287 with two home runs and 15 RBIs in 101 at-bats in 30 games for Baltimore last season, as well as .305 with a .375 on-base percentage in 75 games for Triple-A Norfolk.
"Adding Steve to our roster further addresses our desire to build depth and balance behind the plate," Dipoto said in a statement. "He's coming off of a season in which his bat clicked at the Major League level the way it always has in the Minors."
The trade is the fifth Dipoto has made in the past month after replacing Jack Zduriencik. Trumbo appeared in line to be Seattle's starting first baseman after Dipoto dealt Logan Morrison to the Rays in his first trade four weeks ago, but the Mariners opted to part ways with the 29-year-old slugger rather than tender him a contract and enter a salary-arbitration process.
The move creates some payroll flexibility for Dipoto, as Trumbo was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make about $9 million in his final season before free agency.
Clevenger, a 5-foot-10, 210-pound Baltimore native, has primarily been a catcher throughout his career, but has also played first base and a little second and third base as well.
The Mariners just signed free agent Chris Iannetta to be their primary catcher next season, so Clevenger provides an option as a left-handed hitting backup, if they want to keep 2012 first-round Draft pick Mike Zunino in Triple-A to continue working on his hitting.
"Having Iannetta and Clevenger allows us to send Mike back to Tacoma to start the season, if that's what we choose to do," Dipoto said. "Steve can play first base, so there's the possibility we carry all three, provided Mike warrants that situation.
"Our preference would be to give [Zunino] the opportunity to start in Triple-A, unless he forces the issue with a great spring, which is very possible. We still regard him as big part of our future, but we needed to make an adjustment after last season. He won't be forced onto the Major League roster until he belongs there."
Trumbo was acquired by Zduriencik in June in a deal that sent catcher Welington Castillo, reliever Dominic Leone and Minor League prospects Gabriel Guerrero and Jack Reinheimer to the D-backs for Trumbo and lefty Vidal Nuno.
Trumbo put up a .263/.316/.419 line with 13 home runs and 41 RBIs in 96 games for Seattle. After a rough first month with the Mariners, Trumbo batted .302/.358/.490 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs in his final 74 games.
Riefenhauser was acquired by Seattle as part of a six-player swap with the Rays last month, and he had a 6.30 ERA in 24 relief appearances with Tampa Bay over the previous two years.
With both Trumbo and Morrison gone, Jesus Montero remains the only regular first baseman on Seattle's 40-man roster, so Dipoto clearly isn't finished and now has some extra money in a budget that already has committed $90.5 million to eight players.
"We have Montero coming off an excellent Triple-A season, and he has yet to turn the corner as a Major Leaguer," said Dipoto. "He's certainly sitting in the catbird's seat as the first guy to get an opportunity if the season started today. And we just picked up Andy Wilkins. … Our goal is to add to that before Opening Day."
The Mariners now have three arbitration-eligible players remaining -- relievers Charlie Furbush and Anthony Bass and center fielder Leonys Martin -- and all were tendered contracts prior to Wednesday's 8:59 p.m. PT deadline.
Dipoto already traded Trumbo once when he was GM with the Angels, dealing him to the D-backs at the Winter Meetings in 2013 in a three-team swap that brought young starters Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs to the Angels.
"I told Mark today, please don't take this the wrong way," said Dipoto. "I think he's a wonderful guy and brings a lot to the table. It's difficult to trade right-handed power, but there's a reason for everything. In 2013 with the Angels, we simply needed pitching, and to be able to add two young upside starters, I'd do that deal over 100 times. In today's case, it was the opportunity to bring on a left-handed-hitting catcher and create enough payroll and roster flexibility to do other things as we head into the Hot Stove season."