The Seattle Mariners have been one of the busiest teams in the offseason and they continued that trend on Wednesday, as reports have the team signing outfield Nori Aoki to a contract. According to Jon Heyman at CBS Sports, the Mariners have agreed to a one-year deal with Aoki with an option for the 2017 season.
Reports emerged earlier in the week that the Mariners were targeting Aoki, as new general manager Jerry Dipoto has made a point to make the outfield more athletic this offseason. The team just traded Mark Trumbo in a deal with the Baltimore Orioles and that came after the team previously added Leonys Martin in a trade and signed back Franklin Gutierrez. The 34-year-old Aoki played in 93 games last season and finished the season on the disabled list for the San Francisco Giants.
Aoki is not a power hitter, but Dipoto doesn't mind that right now, as he previously said to reporters that he wanted to add depth and speed to the outfield for Seattle. The team now has Nelson Cruz, Seth Smith, Franklin Gutierrez and Martin as options in the outfield along with Aoki and that gives the roster some flexibility heading into the season.
The Mariners made other moves this week as well, as ESPN reported that the team traded Mark Trumbo to the Baltimore Orioles for catcher Steve Clevenger. Trumbo gave the Mariners some power last season after being acquired from the Diamondbacks, but his salary was expected to be around $9 million for this season and Dipoto likely wants to use that money elsewhere.
According to Bob Dutton at the News Tribune, the Mariners may push to sign back starter Hisashi Iwakuma with the money saved in the Trumbo deal. The Mariners and Iwakuma have a mutual interest in getting a deal done, but so far nothing is close to happening. Iwakuma has been one of the top starters for the Mariners over the past couple years and he would net the team a draft pick if he signs elsewhere after rejecting the qualifying offer from Seattle.
The Mariners had a disappointing season in 2015 after nearly making the playoffs in 2014 and now Dipoto takes over as GM after the team cleaned house in the front office. Dipoto hired close confidant Scott Servais as the new manager and he is working to build the team to be more athletic from top to bottom. Dipoto traded Brad Miller and acquired Nathan Karns and Boog Powell and now he has added Aoki to the mix.