The Mariners on Sunday told first baseman Dae-Ho Lee he will be on the team's 40-man roster, while also telling reliever Joel Peralta he will make the Opening Day roster, apparently filling the spot on the 40-man roster of the soon-to-be-removed Jesus Montero.
The Mariners are keeping power-hitting first baseman Dae-Ho Lee.
The organization notified the veteran slugger that he will be added to the team’s 40-man roster on Sunday morning. General manager Jerry Dipoto later made the announcement to the media.
“He has a history of hitting left-handers and I think he has given us reason to believe in spring training,” Dipoto said. “He’s very prepared, very calm in the batter’s box. He’s gotten better every step of the way as we’ve gone along and it’s been a pleasant surprise, the defensive and especially the base running.”
Officially, Lee has not been added to the 25-man opening day roster, but Dipoto said that will likely happen in the coming days.
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The organization needed to make a decision on Sunday since Lee could have opted out of his minor league contract and become a free agent had he been told he would not make the roster.
Instead, the Mariners have seen enough out of the 33-year-old right-hander from Busan, South Korea to give him a chance as their back-up first baseman/platoon partner with Adam Lind. Lee hit 31 homers in the Japan Pacific League last season. He will make $1 million if he’s on the opening day roster with incentives that could pay him as much as $4 million this season.
At 6-5, and over 275 pounds, there were questions about Lee’s defense and base running coming into spring training. But he’s exceeded expectations.
“He runs the bases really smart and defense has been much better than we anticipated at first base,” Dipoto said. “We do have confidence in his history of handling left-handed pitching which is the role we are trying to fill.’’
Lee is hitting .250 with one home run with 40 at-bats so far in the spring. He will be in the starting lineup on Sunday against the Cubs.
The addition of Lee means that Jesus Montero, who was also competing for the job, will be designated for assignment. Montero’s locker in the big league clubhouse was emptied on Saturday and he wasn’t participating in any games. Asked about Montero, Dipoto said the team will have an official announcement on Monday, but that if you read between the lines it’s easy to understand what is happening.
It’s likely that the team designated Montero for assignment on Saturday and they are waiting for the 48-hour waivers period to see if he’s claimed by another team. If Montero were to clear waivers, he could then be outrighted to minor league camp and remain in the organization.
Montero has struggled this spring, hitting .237 with two doubles, four RBI and 12 strikeouts.
Dipoto also announced some news about the bullpen. The team has informed veteran reliever Joel Peralta he will make the opening day roster and that left-hander Charlie Furbush will undergo a “medical procedure’’ soon in an attempt to solve the shoulder tightness that currently has him sidelined.
The 40-year-old Peralta was signed to a minor league deal in February after going 3-1 with a 4.34 ERA in 33 games for the Dodgers in 2015 with three saves while also battling neck and shoulder injuries.
“Joel is a gamer,’’ Dipoto said. “He makes a difference in our club. I think Joel is a leader in the bullpen and physically he’s been 90, 92 (miles per hour) this whole spring and his split-finger, it’s a weapon. He’s a guy that gets the righties and the lefties out out, kind of a reverse split-type.
“And especially in a bullpen that is going to start without Charlie Furbush, the idea that Joel Peralta is capable of coming in and getting the better left-handed hitters in the league and having strikeout stuff really helps.’’
Dipoto made it clear that the procedure that Furbush will undergo is not surgical. The left-hander was diagnosed with a partially torn rotator cuff last season. He spent the offseason rehabbing and strengthening the shoulder. He was progressing through his throwing program this spring, but experienced tightness in the lower deltoid after his second live batting practice session on March 7.
Dipoto said the team hopes that they can get Furbush to a spot where “once we get him out there he stays out there. We are not in a rush for that to be Opening Day or April 15th but we would like for it to be sooner rather than later.’’