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Mariners release LHP Aríel Miranda to pursue professional opportunity in Japan

The professional opportunity is baseball.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Stefen Romero, Anthony Bass, Arquimedes Caminero, Seth Frankoff, Andrew Albers. That’s the list of Mariners released from pre-arb contracts by the Mariners since Jerry Dipoto took over to allow them to pursue international professional opportunities. We can now add LHP Aríel Miranda to that list.

This move comes on the heels of a somewhat surprising contract extension for LHP Wade LeBlanc. LeBlanc took Miranda’s role from 2017 of the rotation fill-in and has posted a career year, with a 3.19/3.87 ERA/FIP in 79.0 IP. Perhaps no player is better suited to understand Miranda’s situation than LeBlanc, as both were faced with MLB purgatory at the age of 29. LeBlanc secured release from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim following the 2014 season and signed on with the Saitama Seibu Lions of the Nippon Baseball League. Following a passable season in Japan, LeBlanc snagged a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays that began his re-integration into the MLB ranks.

Miranda may be seeking a similar long-game, but just as likely will be well-suited to a guaranteed base salary. As is hopefully common knowledge, players who have yet to reach arbitration do not have guaranteed contracts, so they are only paid at an MLB minimum rate when they are in fact on the MLB roster. When in the minors, depending on their service time, they are paid a higher rate than the average minor leaguer thanks to their MLB service. As such, Miranda has spent the majority of this season making below living wage. Comparatively, Andrew Albers, who shares much of Miranda’s profile as a pitcher, signed a $900k guaranteed deal with the Orix Buffaloes this offseason. While the travel and acclimation to a new culture are no small hurdle, it is likely a clear move for Miranda and his family. The entire active Mariners starting rotation, as well as Erasmo Ramirez, Roenis Elías, Rob Whalen, Max Povse, and Chase De Jong are all under contract through at least 2019, meaning the 29 year-old Miranda would have to drastically outperform multiple players with guaranteed MLB deals or hope for injury for a shot at consistent MLB work (and pay).

For the Mariners, it’s certainly a player-friendly move, as we said the last several times a move like this was made. The upshot is this is just a nice thing to do for one of your employees who has no shot at a promotion internally. Seattle’s front office has operated in a player-friendly manner by MLB standards since Dipoto took over and this continues to build that reputation. It also frees a 40-man roster spot without allowing any chemistry issues to build. On the downside, Miranda was acquired for Wade Miley back in 2016 because he was a player with talent that seemed like it could be optimized. Releasing him, even for relatively benevolent reasons, hurts Seattle’s pitching depth. As 2018 progresses the scars of last year are beginning to fade, and perhaps we can come to terms with how egregious an outlier 2017’s injury parade truly was. Still, the Mariners also likely to need fill-in starters to manage pitch counts this year, as LeBlanc, Marco Gonzales, James Paxton, and even Félix Hernández are approaching career-highs in innings and/or innings levels they haven’t touched in years.

We wish Miranda nothing but good fortune in his time abroad, and will remember him for allowing a home run every 19 batters he faced, yet never giving up a grand slam.

Fare thee well, Aríel.

Fare thee well.