Mariners DFA Hultzen; add 2 to 40-man roster

Powell, Kivlehan protected from selection in Rule 5 Draft

Mariners DFA Hultzen; add 2 to 40-man roster

SEATTLE -- Left-hander Danny Hultzen, the second player selected in the 2011 Draft, was designated for assignment on Friday by the Mariners as the club made several moves to adjust its 40-man roster prior to the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.

"This is not where we envisioned this going when we selected Danny four years ago, but it is what it is," said Mariners assistant general manager Jeff Kingston. "It's too bad. He's a great kid and works as hard as anybody. He's been a favorite of our rehab and strength staff in Peoria [Ariz.]. Danny has kept an extremely positive attitude, so you hate to pull him off the roster. But at the end of the day, it's a business, and we have to do what's best for the Mariners at this time."

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The club added infielder/outfielder Patrick Kivlehan and outfielder Boog Powell to its 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. To make room, Hultzen was designated for assignment, which means the Mariners have 10 days to trade, release or outright him to the Minor Leagues.

The Mariners' 40-man roster is full.

Hultzen, 25, has battled shoulder problems the past three seasons and is still recovering from surgery that wiped out his entire 2014 season and limited him to three appearances and eight innings for Double-A Jackson last year before being completely shut down in midseason due to shoulder fatigue.

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Kingston said if no team expresses interest in trading for Hultzen, he'll be placed on waivers. If he goes unclaimed, he'll then be outrighted to Triple-A Tacoma and remain in the Mariners' system.

"By the time we sent him home, he was feeling good, but he has not resumed his throwing program," Kingston said. "He just wants to continue to rest and rehab and strengthen the shoulder before picking up a ball in the new year. Obviously, that's an unknown at this point, how he'll feel when he does pick up a ball. He feels he'll be good to go in Spring Training. We'll just have to wait and see on that."

Hultzen pitched well in camp last year for Seattle, but couldn't maintain that in the regular season, and he's totaled just 43 2/3 innings over the past three seasons.

"We still feel he's best suited to be a starter," Kingston said. "That's his best role. But without building up innings the last few years, that becomes a challenge. We tried to put a plan together this year and things didn't go as hoped. For each year that goes by, it becomes more of a challenge to get him the innings to stay healthy and productive."

But the Mariners do hold out hope that Hultzen can get strong enough to pitch again. He'll begin a throwing program in January and see where that leads.

Powell, 22, was acquired earlier this month from the Rays as part of a six-player trade. The California native split last season between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, combining to hit .295/.385/.392 with 18 stolen bases in 117 games.

Kivlehan, 25, also needed to be added to the 40-man or risk being lost in the Rule 5 Draft. He hit .256/.313/.453 with 22 home runs and 73 RBIs in 123 games for Triple-A Tacoma last season while splitting time at first base, third base and the outfield.

Kivlehan was a fourth-round Draft pick of the Mariners in 2012 out of Rutgers, where he also played defensive back on the football team. Kivlehan is currently the No. 5-ranked Mariners prospect, according to MLB.com, while Powell is at No. 7.

Players not on the 40-man roster who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in pro ball for four years are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft, as are players who were signed at 18 or under who have played for five years.

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