The Mariners have released a set of transactions, two of which are procedural and the other is a bit of a surprise.
It was always assumed that Endy Chavez would start the year in Tacoma. Minor league contract assumes playing in the minors, right? Not really, at least not at this stage. Alongside the other set of moves -- Franklin Gutierrez converting his minor league deal to a AAA one, and the same for Joe Saunders -- Endy opted to ask for his release and look for a better job somewhere else.
It's totally understandable, even if it was surprising based on my preconceived notions of what Endy Chavez is and what he will always be -- available. To Seattle, specifically. Instead, he'll hang out for the next week or two, seeing if anybody gets hurt or needs a 4th outfielder as their rosters come to a close. Teams will always need replacement-level outfielders, especially ones who remain at that level into their late-30s.
Managers love guys like Endy. One of the reasons I won't shed any tears over his potential departure is exactly that -- whenever he's on a 25-man roster, he plays way more than his production should dictate. Endy's got grit. He'll lay down a bunt. He'll advance the runner. He'll dirty the hell out of that damn uniform.
He's a walking fundamental, and while that's a manager's dream, the Mariners already have a grit-fueled replacement player who can play everywhere (and more) Endy does except center field, which means the M's just don't need Endy, at least not now.
There's a pretty good chance he'll will be back in a week or two. Actually, I'd be kind of surprised if he wasn't. He's clearly got a good working relationship with this franchise, and there aren't many contending teams with as many question marks in the outfield as the Mariners. Besides, it seems like these two just can't quit each other.
Outside of Endy's release (and Kevin Correia, though you probably already knew that), Joe Saunders and Franklin Gutierrez will give it a go in AAA, neither of them holding a spot on the 40-man roster. It'll be interesting to see if the team has Saunders operate as a lefty-specialist or in the rotation, and now that Endy isn't around, there might actually be some playing time for Gutierrez in the outfield.
It's interesting that today's three transactions all involve guys who are all bad to mediocre to great-that-one-year Mariners from recent years of failure. This time, they're not a part of the plan as the team improves their baseline to include others more reliable and talented. But it's nice to have old friends (and enemies) close at hand. Maybe.
See you soon, Endy. Probably.