Mariners tender contracts to all but Rivero

Mariners tender contracts to all but Rivero

SEATTLE -- Carlos Rivero has yet to play a game for the Mariners after being claimed off waivers from the Red Sox last month, but the 26-year-old infielder was not tendered a contract prior to Tuesday night's deadline.

Rivero thus becomes a free agent and can sign with any other club or possibly return to the Mariners on a Minor League deal.

Seattle tendered contracts to all 31 of its other unsigned players prior to the 9 p.m. PT deadline, including six who are arbitration-eligible -- outfielders Austin Jackson, Michael Saunders and Dustin Ackley; first baseman Logan Morrison; and relievers Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmsen.

Those six are expected to combine for approximately $19.5 million through arbitration, according to projections by MLBTradeRumors.com. Jackson made $6 million last year, Saunders $2.3 million, Morrison $1.75 million, Ackley $1.5 million, Furbush $750,000 and Wilhelmsen $528,000.

All can expect to earn more next season via arbitration, with Jackson in his third and final year of eligibility, Saunders and Morrison in their second years, and Furbush, Wilhelmsen and Ackley beginning the process for the first time. MLBTradeRumors.com, which has been pretty accurate with its projections, estimates Jackson will wind up at about $8 million, Saunders $2.9 million, Ackley $2.8 million, Morrison $2.6 million, Wilhelmsen $2.1 million and Furbush $1 million.

All-Star third baseman Kyle Seager would have been eligible for the first time, but he finalized a seven-year, $100 million deal on Tuesday that buys out all three of his arbitration years as well as his first four years of free agency. Seager was projected to earn $5 million this year; his new deal calls for $4 million in base salary for 2015 along with a $3.5 million signing bonus.

The other 25 players tendered contracts on Tuesday are in the pre-arbitration phase (zero to three years of service time) of their Major League careers.

Rivero wasn't eligible for arbitration, having only played four Major League games in his career thus far (all for the Red Sox), but the Mariners chose to non-tender him in order to open a spot on the 40-man roster. With the impending signing of free agent Nelson Cruz, Seattle's 40-man would have been full.

By opening that spot, the Mariners can either add a player in the coming days or use it to make a selection in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 11. Rivero is out of Minor League options, so unless he made the Opening Day 25-man roster, he would have been exposed to waivers at the end of Spring Training if he'd remained on the 40-man.

Rivero has limited Major League experience, but he went 4-for-7 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs in his four games for the Red Sox in the final month of the 2014 season. He hit .264 with seven homers and 53 RBIs in 105 Minor League games, mostly with Boston's Triple-A Pawtucket club.

Rivero is having a strong showing in the Venezuelan Winter League, batting .291 with 10 home runs, 32 RBIs and a .935 OPS in 36 games for Cardenales de Lara. He's played mostly shortstop and third base in nine Minor League seasons, and has seen some limited outfield duty.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.