Mariners eye Cecil, lefty options out of 'pen

Club evaluating southpaws in free agency to improve relief corps

Mariners eye Cecil, lefty options out of 'pen

SEATTLE -- While the Mariners don't figure to be major players for most of the high-priced free-agent targets, general manager Jerry Dipoto will almost surely dip into the pool of left-handed relievers to bolster a position of need.

Seattle isn't lining up for the Aroldis Chapman sweepstakes, but it does figure to be in the market for the next tier of available southpaws, and's Jon Morosi noted Thursday that Toronto's Brett Cecil is already on its radar.

That's no surprise, given Dipoto traded left-hander Mike Montgomery to the Cubs in late July for first-base prospect Daniel Vogelbach and just dealt lefty Vidal Nuno to the Dodgers on Monday for veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz.

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With Charlie Furbush out until 2018 and opting for free agency instead of a Minor League outright following rotator cuff surgery in August, the only returning lefty relievers on Seattle's 40-man roster are former Rule 5 Draft pick David Rollins, switch-pitcher Pat Venditte and possibly Ariel Miranda, if he doesn't win a rotation spot next spring.

Dipoto did claim southpaw Dean Kiekhefer from the Cardinals last week, but he will continue looking for more help in that area.

"We have a couple other irons in the fire," Dipoto said Tuesday at the GM Meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz. "We do feel that is one area in the free-agent market that is more robust than others."

Cecil, 30, posted a 2.67 ERA with 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings from 2013-15 for Toronto, including an All-Star season in '13, but he dealt with a triceps injury last season while pitching just 36 2/3 innings with a 3.93 ERA.

Cecil leaves them loaded

Cecil did strike out 36 in 26 1/3 innings in 38 appearances after returning from the disabled list on June 30 and put up a 3.42 ERA with a .222 opponent's batting average in that span, and he figures to draw strong interest on the open market after earning $3.8 million last year from Toronto.

Other southpaw free agents of note include Boone Logan of the Rockies, Jerry Blevins of the Mets and Javier Lopez of the Giants.

Logan has been primarily used as a left-handed specialist in his 11-year MLB career with the White Sox, Braves, Yankees and Rockies, but he pitched fairly well against right-handers as well last year with Colorado when he posted a 3.69 ERA in 46 1/3 innings over 66 appearances.

Blevins is coming off a strong season in New York. After missing almost all of 2015 with a fractured left arm, the 33-year-old put up a 2.79 ERA in 42 innings in 73 outings this past year while posting a career-best 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

Lopez is 39 and his ERA jumped to 4.05 this past season in 68 outings with the Giants after a sterling 1.60 in 77 games in '15, but he still held left-handers to a .208 batting average in 90 plate appearances vs. .348 by righties in 28 plate appearances.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.