By Shannon Drayer
As expected, the Mariners have declined the 2014 options for center fielder Franklin Gutierrez and pitcher Joe Saunders. Both are now free agents.
The team had a $7.5 million option with a $500,000 buyout on Gutierrez and a mutual option with Saunders, who earned $6.5 million in 2013. Friday's moves take $13.5 million off the books.
While the options were declined, the team still could negotiate with either player on a new contract. That seems highly unlikely in the case of Saunders, but Gutierrez may be an option at a much lower pricetag in perhaps a fourth- or platoon-outfielder role. When healthy, even this year, he was an impact player. The healthy part, obviously, was the problem.
Mariners interview Valle
SI.com broke the news Thursday that former Mariners catcher Dave Valle interviewed for the club's vacant managerial position.
I have since had this confirmed and don't find it too out of the ordinary. Organizations often interview one of their own. Sometimes it is to give them the experience, sometimes to help get their name out there and sometimes to take a look at them or hear what they have to say in a different setting – much like they did in 2002 with Bryan Price.
Now, unlike 2002, the trend is to hire former players who do not have experience. For all of the grumbling I hear on Twitter and in the blog comments about the Mariners not going after a "big name", well, aside from Dusty Baker, where is that big name and who else is going after him?
The Reds hired Price and the Nationals hired Matt Williams. The Cubs, Tigers and Mariners for the most part are interviewing the same candidates and not a big name to be seen. So cool it with the grumbling, please, unless you have another suggestion.
The Mariners took care of one more piece of housekeeping Friday, reinstating right-handed pitcher Stephen Pryor from the 60-day disabled list, which needed to done by Monday.
With Friday's moves, the 40-man roster is now at 34.
Fall League notes
Expanded instant replay will be tested next week in the Arizona Fall League. From the release:
"New review procedures for expanded instant replay will be game-tested during play at the Arizona Fall League (AFL) in five games that will be televised live on MLB Network from Tuesday, November 5th through Saturday, November 9th.
"AFL Umpires will be assigned to the games, which will be observed by select MLB officials and Major League Umpires. Plays in AFL games will be called and challenged under the protocols of the newly designed instant replay plan that is now under consideration."
Also of note, the annual "Fall Stars" game takes place Saturday. Carson Smith, a reliever from Double-A Jackson, was chosen for the game but has been replaced as he has reached his innings limit. Rainiers outfielder Stefen Romero will be the Mariners' lone representative in the game, which can be seen on MLB TV.