The Mariners made several roster moves on Thursday afternoon. First up, Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto announced that the club has exercised its 2017 option on outfielder Seth Smith, and declined its 2017 option on catcher Chris Iannetta. The club also reinstated right-handed pitcher Nathan Karns from the 60-day disabled list.
Outfielder Norichika Aoki was claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros. And with the World Series ending yesterday, Franklin Gutierrez, Dae-Ho Lee, Adam Lind and Drew Storen became free agents this morning.
After today’s transactions, the Mariners Major League 40-man roster is now at 35 players.
Smith, 34, hit .249 (94×378) with 62 runs, 15 doubles, 16 home runs and 63 RBI in 137 games with Seattle this season. His 63 RBI were a career-high and his 16 home runs were 2nd-most in his career. Smith hit .326 (28×86) with 1 double, 8 home runs and 50 RBI with runners in scoring position this season, ranking 12th-best in the American League in average with runners in scoring position. The 6-foot-3, 210 pound outfielder ranks 2nd among active players in pinch-hit home runs with 9, and is one of two players to hit a pinch-hit home run in each of the last 4 seasons (2013-16). In parts of 10 Major League seasons with Colorado (2007-11), Oakland (2012-13), San Diego (2014) and Seattle (2015-c), Smith is a career .261 (849×3252) hitter with 205 doubles, 113 home runs and 426 RBI in 1138 career games.
Karns, 28, was 6-2 with a 5.15 ERA (54 ER, 94.1 IP) with 101 strikeouts and 45 walks in 22 games (15 starts) with the Mariners this season. Karns was 6-2 with a 4.56 ERA (41 ER, 81.0 IP) in 15 starts. In 7 appearances out of the bullpen, he recorded 1 save while posting an 8.78 ERA (13 ER, 13.1 IP) with 17 strikeouts and 7 walks. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a low back strain on July 30 and was transferred to the 60-day DL on Sept. 1.
Iannetta, 33, hit .210 (62×295) with 23 runs, 14 doubles, 7 home runs and 24 RBI in 94 games this season. He appeared in 70 of the Mariners 89 games before the All-Star Break, but just 24 of Seattle’s 73 games following the break. He signed with Seattle as a Major League free agent on Nov. 23, 2015. In parts of 11 Major League seasons, he has hit .229 (652×2848) with 355 runs, 139 doubles, 107 home runs and 402 RBI in 946 games with Colorado, Los Angeles-AL & Seattle.
Aoki, who turns 35 in January, hit .283 this season with 63 runs, 24 doubles, 4 triples, 4 home runs and 28 RBI in 118 games with the Mariners. After hitting just .245 (61×249) in 67 games prior to the All-Star Break, Aoki hit .339 (57×168) in 51 second-half games. He also appeared in 24 games with AAA Tacoma, where he hit .323 (31×96).
Aoki signed with Seattle as a free agent on Dec. 3, 2015. He has also appeared in the Majors with Milwaukee (2012-2013), Kansas City (2014) and San Francisco (2015) after playing 11 seasons (2004-2011) with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in Japan’s Central League.