SEATTLE -- Drew Smyly and Shae Simmons -- two pitchers acquired last January in a three-team trade that cost the Mariners some prize prospects -- were both non-tendered by the Mariners on Friday, making them free agents rather than going through the arbitration process.
The club came to agreement on a one-year deal with utility man Andrew Romine to avoid arbitration. Romine signed a $1.05 million deal with $250,000 in potential incentives, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman.
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The moves were made prior to Friday's 5 p.m. PT deadline to tender contracts to all players on the 40-man roster who are not already signed for next season. The rest of Seattle's players were tendered contracts, essentially an agreement that a deal will be negotiated in the next two months.
The deadline is of particular note with arbitration-eligible players, since once they are tendered a contract, the team is obligated to play out the arbitration process and either come to an agreement or allow an arbitration panel to determine the players' salary for the coming season.
The other five Mariners arbitration-eligible players -- pitchers James Paxton, Erasmo Ramirez, David Phelps and Nick Vincent and catcher Mike Zunino -- were all tendered contracts.
But the Mariners chose to non-tender Smyly and Simmons rather than bind themselves to that process, most likely a result of their health situations.
Smyly was expected to fill a key role in the Mariners' rotation last year after being acquired from the Rays, but the lefty hurt his elbow in the spring and now is recovering from Tommy John surgery. He's not expected to begin throwing until the middle of next season and would have been a long shot to contribute in 2018.
Smyly earned $6.85 million last year and would have been required to receive at least 80 percent of that figure in 2018, per MLB's Collective Bargaining Agreement, which means the Mariners would have had to pay him at least $5.48 million if they'd gone to arbitration, with Smyly then becoming a free agent following the season.
The decision with Simmons is a little more surprising, given he finally got healthy at the end of last season after dealing with arm problems much of the year and wasn't in line for a large salary in his first season of arbitration eligibility. The 27-year-old posted a 7.04 ERA with eight strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings in his lone season with Seattle after being acquired from the Braves last winter.
The departures of Smyly and Simmons put the Mariners' 40-man roster at 35 players. It's possible the club could attempt to re-sign Simmons to a Minor League deal later this winter if he doesn't land elsewhere, but that isn't expected with Smyly, given he's not likely to pitch in the coming season.
Romine was claimed off waivers from the Tigers on Nov. 2 to provide another utility candidate for the Mariners. He earned $1.3 million last year while posting a .233/.289/.336 line with four home runs and 25 RBIs in 318 at-bats. The 32-year-old played every position for Detroit, including pitcher and catcher in one game at the end of the season, but is regarded primarily as an infielder.
Romine is in his third and final year of arbitration eligibility and will be a free agent at the end of the 2018 season.