The Mariners have signed free agent reliever and former Marlins closer Steve Cishek to a two-year contract. Cishek will compete with Joaquin Benoit for the closing spot in the revamped Mariners' bullpen.
The reshaped Mariners bullpen will have plenty of new faces and new roles. But the latest addition could fill the all-important closing job for the 2016 season.
Baseball sources confirmed Saturday that the Mariners have agreed to a two-year, $10 million contract with former Miami Marlins closer Steve Cishek.
An announcement of the signing likely will come Monday morning. Cishek was in Seattle on Thursday and Friday taking a physical. He will earn $4 million in 2016 and $6 million in 2017 with $7 million in possible incentives. Cishek was scheduled to make about $7 million for 2016 in arbitration and was arbitration-eligible for next season. The Mariners bought out those years with the contract.
On Thursday as the winter meetings came to a close, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said they would add at least one more reliever on a major-league free-agent deal. That reliever was the side-arming Cishek, who will compete with veteran Joaquin Benoit for the closing duties.
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Ideally, the Mariners hope Cishek, 29, can bounce back to his closing form of 2013-14 so they can Benoit as the setup man in the eighth inning. Over that two-year span, Cishek saved 73 games for the Marlins. He pitched 135 innings during that span, posting a 2.73 ERA with 158 strikeouts and 43 walks.
Much like his Marlins team last season, Cishek struggled early. In his first 19 outings of 2015 he posted a 1-5 record with four saves and a 6.58 ERA. Over his next 40 appearances, during which he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, Cishek posted a 1.75 ERA in 36 inning as a setup man.
The Mariners will have to make a corresponding roster move and remove a player off the 40-man roster. Dipoto also plans to more relievers to minor-league contracts with spring-training invites.