Mariners have until 9 p.m. Thursday to offer contracts to all players. One report Wednesday said infielder Jose Lopez will not be offered a contract by the team. Left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith and other players wait anxiously to see if the Mariners will keep them.
The career of Jose Lopez is apparently done in Seattle, while Ryan Rowland-Smith and other Mariners are awaiting word on whether theirs will continue.
Rowland-Smith spent Wednesday at his girlfriend’s Los Angeles home preparing for a trip to Australia next week and waiting for the Mariners to tender him a contract. The team has until 9 p.m. PST Thursday to tender contracts to all players, including Lopez, Rowland-Smith and four others eligible for salary arbitration.
A report Wednesday on the team’s flagship ESPN 710 station, citing an unnamed source, said Lopez would not be offered a contract, likely ending his five-year career with the club. Some arbitration-eligible players, like David Aardsma, Brandon League and Jason Vargas, seem certain to get offers, while others, like Rowland-Smith and shortstop Josh Wilson, are a bit more on the bubble.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone since the season ended,” Rowland-Smith said. “Obviously, I hope to continue my career here with the Mariners. They’re the team I began my career with, and I think they know what I can do. I would hope they’d look beyond my one bad year and look at other stuff I’ve done.”
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That “bad year” in 2010 saw Rowland-Smith go just 1-10 with a 6.75 earned-run average. Rowland-Smith admits his confidence was shattered and said, “I’m determined to never have what happened to me ever happen again.”
He’s undertaken mixed martial arts workouts up to five times a week in Los Angeles at a gym owned by mixed martial arts fighter Toby Grear, a former world lightweight champion. FOX Sports NFL analyst Jay Glazer and mixed martial arts fighter Cooper Gibson both train Rowland-Smith, and the pitcher says the benefits extend beyond the physical.
“You have to be psychologically tough to do mixed martial arts,” he said. “You have to build confidence. Not that I wasn’t psychologically tough before, but I lost my confidence last season. I lost my edge. As a professional athlete, it’s basically earning your space and earning your place in the field around you. You have to have that arrogance, that edge.”
Rowland-Smith earned $440,000 last season and gives the Mariners options in the rotation and bullpen, though he’s got other left-handed competition from Garrett Olson and Cesar Jimenez. Still, Rowland-Smith’s salary won’t be a bank buster in arbitration — probably still six figures — and teams can release players who sign such deals for a sixth of the cost by March 28 if things don’t work out in spring training.
That differs from Lopez, who earned $2.75 million last year. Teams can’t cut any player’s salary more than 20 percent in arbitration, meaning Lopez would have to be offered at least $2.2 million by Seattle and could make $3 million or more in any negotiated settlement or arbitration ruling.
Lopez, 27, an All-Star in 2006, fell off the map offensively in 2010 after a move from second base to third. He was looking like a man without a position in Seattle, with Chone Figgins expected to play third in 2011 while Dustin Ackley could take over second at some point.
The Mariners have yet to comment on the report, and Lopez’s agent did not return calls.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners