Mariners still eyeing reliever as pace slows

Dipoto says club remains in negotiations with a free-agent arm

December 13th, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto continued pushing for pitching Tuesday as the club zeroed in on the available free agents in a relief market that remained largely stalemated after the second day of the Winter Meetings.

The ever-active Dipoto felt the club might be close to acquiring a reliever on Monday, but he sounded less certain after a second day of talks produced little action across the board among executives of the 30 teams.

"We're still in the ballpark," Dipoto said of negotiations with one targeted free agent. "We may be more between first and second than between third and home, but we're somewhere in motion."

Deals can be closed quickly, however, and there remains a healthy crop of free-agent bullpen arms available. Dipoto's interest appears on landing an experienced setup man. Reports circulated Tuesday night that the Rockies had an agreement with former Indians reliever , but , , and Jake McGee are among the top names still available.

Though the Mariners were linked in one report to free-agent outfielder , Dipoto reiterated that he feels his position roster is pretty much set after the earlier trades for first baseman and center fielder Dee Gordon.

"That's our group," he said. "Today we spent absolutely zero time talking about position players. We were entirely focused on pitching."

Lewis expected back by Spring Training

Outfielder Kyle Lewis, the Mariners' 2016 first-round Draft pick and the club's No. 1 prospect, per, should be ready to compete by the start of Spring Training after being pulled out of the Arizona Fall League to rest his sore right knee, Dipoto said.

Lewis came back for the second half of last season for Class A Advanced Modesto, but played just two games in the AFL before being shut down when he felt soreness in his surgically repaired knee.

"It was definitely a setback," Dipoto said. "We're trying to protect him. When he felt any discomfort at all, we wanted to make sure he's 100 percent before he goes out on the field. We've determined he's structurally sound, now we just have to get to the point where he trusts it. That is the only hurdle to get over now."

Dipoto said Lewis could open at Modesto or Double-A Arkansas, depending how things play out.

Worth noting

• Former University of Washington and Kentwood High first baseman Matt Hague has signed with Seattle on a Minor League deal. Hit 297/.373/.416 with 10 homers and 65 RBIs for Triple-A Rochester in the Twins' organization last year and has 43 games MLB experience with Pirates and Blue Jays.

• The Mariners also have added outfielder John Andreoli on a Minor League deal. The 27-year-old hit .244/.348/.435 with 14 homers for Triple-A Iowa in 119 games in the Cubs organization in 2017.

• Dipoto said the club put , the club's No. 8 prospect, in a bad spot last year by attempting a midseason conversion to a relief role and will let the 6-foot-8 right-hander come to camp and compete as a starter this spring.

• Though the Mariners haven't made any selections in the Major League Rule 5 Draft in Dipoto's previous two years, he said that could change this Thursday if the right player is available when Seattle's selection comes at 14th overall. Seattle's 40-man roster is at 37.