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Mariners notebook: Why put Morales on waivers?

By Shannon Drayer

A busy afternoon for the Mariners as they made a few announced moves and one quiet move which I will address first.

There was a report that Kendrys Morales was claimed on waivers. This most likely is true and is not a surprise. I have had a few of you ask me to explain this move and what it means, so here goes.

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Placing designated hitter Kendrys Morales on waivers is a no-risk move. (AP)
Teams can trade players after the non-waiver deadline on July 31 but in order to do so they must put the player on waivers. If the player clears waivers then he can be traded to any team. If he is claimed then the team which put him on waivers can try to work out a trade with the claiming team or they can pull the player back off waivers. A player can only be placed on waivers in this manner (as opposed to being designated for assignment) and pulled back once.

Teams are offered the player in reverse order of the standings. Sometimes they are claimed because there is actual interest in trading for the player; other times the claim is made to block another team from acquiring him. Players can only be claimed once, so if there is no deal the player is not offered to the next team.

Why would a team place on waivers a player they have little interest in trading? Well, why not? It's basically like answering the phone and listening on a player before the deadline. It is one last shot to see if they can get the value they want for that player. It also is a way to gauge interest and market value. Teams typically put their entire rosters on waivers between the trade deadline and Sept. 1, the day 25-man rosters must be finalized to be eligible for postseason play.

So how does this apply to Morales? In the eyes of general manager Jack Zduriencik, I hardly think that his value has gone down since the trade deadline. He is a player that has value on the field plus the added value of a draft pick if the team is unable to re-sign him. No team was willing to give Zduriencik that value at the deadline. Is the claiming team willing to do that now? Probably not, and if they are then the Mariners will be getting a lot back in return. I don't see that happening.

Gutierrez back; Harang out

Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez is back with the club and pitcher Aaron Harang has been designated for assignment. While Harang has been inconsistent, this move had more to do with the fact that the Mariners have been struggling offensively and with three lefties coming up they desperately needed another right-handed bat. So Gutierrez is up and in the lineup Monday night hitting third. How long he remains on the field is obviously the question.

Gutierrez has had a number of false starts in his comeback from multiple leg problems and injuries. The last time he attempted to come back he spoke of leg and hip problems that recently had been diagnosed as something more than muscle strains or pulls. He told a group of reporters in the clubhouse on Monday that he was dealing with ankylosing spondylitis. This is a tough diagnosis, something he will have to deal with for the rest of his life. He is relieved to have a diagnosis, however, and believes the medication has been helping.

"This thing started in spring training," Gutierrez said. "I didn't know what it was. It was tough to play like this. I have been dealing with it the whole year, feeling the inflammation in the pelvis, lower back. Trying to run like that is not easy. Right now I feel like it is under control."

Interestingly enough, stomach problems can be part of A.S.

"I started dealing with this, I guess, the past two years," Gutierrez said. "It started with the stomach and some other things. I think it is all connected, they think it is all connected. I am glad that finally they found out what was going on with me."

As for how he will deal with it on a day-in, day-out basis, well, that is the key. It will be day-in, day-out.

"They (doctors) told me it was going to be a slow process. There would be days I would feel something, other days I would feel great. That is the way it is. I think they are going to be asking me every day how I feel," Gutierrez said.

Manager Eric Wedge echoed that and said that they would communicate daily to figure out if Gutierrez can play or not.

So Gutierrez is up and the Mariners will have to figure out what to do about the open spot in the rotation. Taijuan Walker has been pitching on the same day as Harang and could be an option, but by all appearances a decision has not been made as of yet. Looking to get some insight, I asked Wedge if he felt September experience helped young players who most likely would be up the next year.

"I think it does," Wedge answered, "as long as a couple of things happen. You can't put them in harm's way in regard to their work load. You have got to make sure that mentally you think they are tough enough to handle it if things don't go well. You look at if they don't do particularly well, where are we at? If they do perform well, where are we at?

"As long as neither one of those are extremes, even on the upside part of it where you are not raising expectations beyond where they already are, which makes it more difficult for any young man, as long as you are in that medium realm then I think you are probably in a pretty good position to give them an opportunity to come up here."

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