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George Sherrill Joins Mariners, Skirts Pile

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The news has yet to be officially confirmed as best I can tell, but it's all over the electronosphere that George Sherrill and the Mariners have agreed to a one-year contract with a guaranteed pay of $1.1 million.

Sherrill had a disastrous 2010 season with the Dodgers and then signed a one year deal with the Braves to rebound his value. Oddly, Sherrill had a perfectly decent 2011 season in Atlanta by both old and new metrics, and yet Sherrill faces another pay cut albeit a slight one from the $1.2 million he made last season.

Of course Sherrill's deal with the Mariners reportedly comes with a boat's worth of incentives so he's likely to end up making more money by the time 2012 concludes. Incentives for relievers are usually tied to innings pitched, saves, appearances or games finished, all of which Sherrill would rack up as the season progressed. That's important to the Mariners because if the Mariners hang back as expected behind Anaheim and Texas, then Sherrill could be a useful trade piece while allowing the Mariners to escape the extra payouts.

Sherrill didn't just shake off 2010 last year, he set some career highs along the way that are encouraging for the Mariners. Sherrill tossed a first pitch strike to 69% of hitters last season, one of the best rates in the Majors and far above anything Sherrill had posted in the past. He also missed more bats within the strike zone thanks possibly to what pitch f/x shows was more bite and movement on his slider. He's still a bad pitcher against righties though so any rumblings about him potentially usurping a closer's job should be met with a dismissive chortle and a flippant wave of your hand.

Sherrill will join Brandon League and, eventually, Shawn Kelley as relievers with Major League contracts. With others such as Tom Wilhelmsen likely to hold a spot in the bullpen as well once camp settles down, the individual members of the pile now have one fewer spot for escape.