Next step in reach for motivated Mariners

With all the right moves, Seattle seeking elusive postseason berth in 2015

Next step in reach for motivated Mariners

SEATTLE -- It's always fun looking ahead to a new year, but that peek forward for Mariners fans comes with some extra zest this winter.

After improving by 16 wins and coming within one game of tying for their first playoff berth in 13 years, Seattle appears poised to make a postseason push in 2015. There is much work to be done and questions still to be answered, but the Mariners clearly have put themselves back into the conversation in the American League West and will head to Spring Training in February with renewed optimism.

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

Smith feeling peachy about joining Mariners

Former college quarterback ready to accept any role with new team

Smith feeling peachy about joining Mariners

SEATTLE -- For Seth Smith, 2014 didn't end on a very happy note, but not because of his trade from the Padres to the Mariners.

Smith, who spent three years at Ole Miss as the backup quarterback to Eli Manning from 2002-04, had to endure a 42-3 loss to Texas Christian by his alma mater on New Year's Eve in the Peach Bowl before joining a conference call with Mariners media members to discuss his new baseball situation.

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

Mariners acquire outfielder Smith from Padres

Seattle sends righty Maurer to San Diego for left-handed hitter

Mariners acquire outfielder Smith from Padres

SEATTLE -- Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik made a late addition to his holiday shopping cart on Tuesday, as he completed a trade for Padres outfielder Seth Smith that gives Seattle a strong platoon option in right field for 2015.

The Mariners sent right-handed pitcher Brandon Maurer to the Padres in the deal, using their bullpen depth to add another offensive piece to a club looking to challenge in the American League West next season.

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

Mariners Caravan gets underway on Jan. 6

Relief pitcher Furbush scheduled to appear during Week 1

Mariners Caravan gets underway on Jan. 6

SEATTLE -- Relief pitcher Charlie Furbush is scheduled to appear during the first week of the 2015 Mariners Caravan when it hits the road starting Tuesday, Jan. 6.

The three-week Winter Caravan will make stops in about two dozen communities across the Northwest between Jan. 6-23, hosting numerous elementary school assemblies and Boys & Girls Club appearances as well as several free public autograph and photo sessions.

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

Huge strides get Mariners closer to postseason goal

Addition of Cano, emergence of Seager and Felix's usual dominance highlight '14

Huge strides get Mariners closer to postseason goal

SEATTLE -- Looking back at 2014, it's safe to say the Mariners made significant progress on numerous fronts. A new team president, new manager, new superstar player and some impressive new additions across the diamond added up to one of the better single-season improvements in franchise history.

No, it didn't add up to the ultimate goal of landing a playoff berth and making the club's first postseason run since 2001. But an 87-75 season in which they were in the playoff hunt until the final game left a feeling that the Mariners are finally headed in the right direction.

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

Cruz a kid at heart during offseasons at home

Mariners' new slugger spreads Christmas joy with toy drive in Dominican Republic

Cruz a kid at heart during offseasons at home

SEATTLE -- He may have just signed a four-year, $57 million deal that makes him a wealthy man, and he's the reigning Major League home run champion, but Nelson Cruz hasn't forgotten where he came from.

The Mariners' new slugger returned to his hometown in the Monte Cristi area of the Dominican Republic on Friday and passed out toys and books to some 550 kids at his former elementary school, where his mom taught when he was growing up.

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

Ken Griffey Jr. gives us a case of sweater envy

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Ken Griffey Jr. gives us a case of sweater envy

There are ugly Christmas sweaters and then there are sweaters that are, unquestionably, downright beautiful. Ken Griffey Jr.'s new Christmas sweater is the latter:

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AL West contenders take aim at Angels

Top-heavy division undergoing subtle changes in Hot Stove season

AL West contenders take aim at Angels

There's been a whole lot of noise out West this winter on the Hot Stove scene, but much of the major action has emanated from the National League, where the Padres and Dodgers have dominated the headlines.

Outside of an interesting roster overhaul by Billy Beane of the A's, American League West general managers have been quieter to date, perhaps not surprising given the division's strong showing in 2014 when the Angels posted the best regular-season record of any club in the Major Leagues at 98-64 and three teams finished with 87 or more wins, a claim no other division could make.

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

Logan Morrison has a stunning ugly X-mas sweater

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Logan Morrison has a stunning ugly X-mas sweater

Everyone loves a good Ugly Christmas Sweater. They've become as traditional as egg nog, yule logs and long poems about Santa. And just as everyone loves ugly sweaters, everyone has different definitions of what truly makes a Christmas sweater ugly with a capital-U: bows, bells, teddy bears unwrapping presents or any combination.

But we think everyone can agree that Mariners outfielder Logan Morrison takes the cake in 2014:

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Bawcom clears waivers, outrighted to Triple-A

Bawcom clears waivers, outrighted to Triple-A

SEATTLE -- Right-handed reliever Logan Bawcom, who was designated for assignment last Wednesday by the Mariners, cleared waivers on Monday and was outrighted to Triple-A Tacoma.

Bawcom, 26, went 4-4 with a 4.93 ERA and six saves in 40 appearances for Triple-A Tacoma last season.

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

Mariners prospects excelling in Winter Leagues

Lara, Rivero shine while vets Chavez, Gutierrez continue to play in Venezuela

Mariners prospects excelling in Winter Leagues

SEATTLE -- While most of the Mariners contingent has wrapped up its offseason action, young first-base prospect Jordy Lara continues to shine in the Dominican Winter League.

Lara, the Mariners Co-Player of the Year in the Minor Leagues last year, extended his hitting streak to six games on Friday for Aguilas Cibaenas, and he has gone 10-for-22 in that stretch to raise his batting average to .341 in 13 games.

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

Mariners sign Lowe, 2 others to Minor League deals

Mariners sign Lowe, 2 others to Minor League deals

SEATTLE -- Right-handed reliever Mark Lowe, who began his career with parts of five seasons in Seattle, said he's happy to come full circle as he's returning to the Mariners on a Minor League deal with an invitation to Major League camp.

Lowe is one of three players with Major League experience who have signed Minor League deals with camp invites, the club announced Thursday. The others are right-handed pitcher Justin Germano and infielder Carlos Rivero.

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

Mariners acquire versatile outfielder Ruggiano from Cubs

Seattle sends Minor League right-handed reliever Brazis to Chicago

Mariners acquire versatile outfielder Ruggiano from Cubs

SEATTLE -- The Mariners added some needed outfield depth Wednesday by acquiring Justin Ruggiano from the Cubs in a trade for Minor League reliever Matt Brazis, and the club will continue looking for other opportunities to improve its offense, according to general manager Jack Zduriencik.

The move could foreshadow a platoon scenario for the Mariners in their right-field situation. Ruggiano, 32, gives Seattle a right-handed option who can play all three outfield positions. The six-year Major League veteran hit .281 with six home runs and 28 RBIs in 224 at-bats in 81 games last season for the Cubs.

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

Inbox: Who will Mariners' biggest surprise be in 2015?

Beat reporter Greg Johns fields questions from Seattle fans this offseason

Inbox: Who will Mariners' biggest surprise be in 2015?

Here's the latest in our Reader Inbox series. You can click here to submit a question of your own.

It seems like every season there is a player or two that really surprise everyone. Who do you think might do that next year for the Mariners?
-- Henry L., Lewiston, Idaho

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

Mariners seek creative options for right-field vacancy

Cabrera's deal with White Sox forces club to pursue alternatives

Mariners seek creative options for right-field vacancy

SEATTLE -- Melky Cabrera, the free-agent outfielder expected by many to wind up with the Mariners this offseason, instead opted to sign with the White Sox late Saturday night. And that might push Seattle more toward available trade options as general manager Jack Zduriencik looks to fill a right-field vacancy.

Cabrera's deal is for three years and will pay $42 million, a source told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, though it hasn't been announced by the White Sox.

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

John Olerud raises 12 Flag for Seahawks

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John Olerud raises 12 Flag for Seahawks

Unless you play bass in Pearl Jam (you don't) or you're a mid-level executive for a corporation know for its popular coffee franchises (you're not), John Olerud is more indigenous to the Pacific Northwest than you are.

The former All-Star was born in Seattle, went on to follow in his father's footsteps by playing baseball at nearby Washington State University. Eventually, Olerud brought it all full circle, playing five seasons for the Mariners and hitting .302 in their 116-win 2001 campaign.

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Mariners pluck lefty Rollins from Astros in Rule 5 Draft

Drafted in 2009, '10 by Seattle, hard thrower will have chance to earn 'pen role

Mariners pluck lefty Rollins from Astros in Rule 5 Draft

SAN DIEGO -- David Rollins, a left-hander in the Astros' organization, was selected by the Mariners in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft and general manager Jack Zduriencik said the 24-year-old will be given a shot at winning a job in the bullpen.

Rollins had been selected twice by Seattle in the First-Year Player Draft -- in the 23rd round in 2009 and 46th round in '10 -- but never signed until being selected by the Blue Jays in the 24th round in '11 out of San Jacinto Junior College in Texas.

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

Zduriencik confident club will fill right-field void over winter

Seattle GM pleased with talks during Meetings, has plenty of time, options

Zduriencik confident club will fill right-field void over winter

SAN DIEGO -- The Mariners departed the Winter Meetings on Thursday without having filled their biggest remaining goal of adding a right fielder, but it appears only a matter of time before general manager Jack Zduriencik checks off that last remaining box on his winter wish list.

Zduriencik said he had productive talks on several fronts over his four days at the Meetings and there are still free agent and trade possibilities to pursue.

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

McClendon: Success for Mariners starts with preparation

McClendon: Success for Mariners starts with preparation

SAN DIEGO -- A year ago, Lloyd McClendon was one of the new guys at the Winter Meetings, just taking over a Mariners club with more questions than answers and looking to make his mark with a team coming off its fourth straight losing season.

But McClendon now brings a year's experience in Seattle and increased expectations with a club that improved by 16 wins in his first season, just missing an American League Wild Card spot at 87-75 and now looking to take the next step up in the AL West.

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

Zduriencik: Mariners 'very pleased' with Walker

Zduriencik: Mariners 'very pleased' with Walker

SAN DIEGO -- The Mariners likely will leave the Winter Meetings on Thursday without having made any further moves, but they'll also leave with their stable of talented young pitchers intact and the ability to still add a needed right fielder in the coming days.

And that's just fine with Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik, who made it clear Wednesday that Taijuan Walker, the talented young right-hander most often named in trade rumors, remains an integral part of his club going forward.

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

Mariners' top prospect Jackson adds to accolades

Mariners' top prospect Jackson adds to accolades

SAN DIEGO -- Alex Jackson doesn't turn 19 until Christmas Day, but the Mariners' 2014 first-round Draft choice already finds himself garnering awards as one of baseball's top young prospects.

The San Diego native was honored Tuesday night as Baseball America's High School Player of the Year at a banquet at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, site of the Minor League Winter Meetings.

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

Mariners waiting for market to take shape

Mariners waiting for market to take shape

SAN DIEGO -- The Mariners continued looking into their options to land a right fielder on Tuesday, but pitching has been the focus for many teams at the Winter Meetings and Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik reported little progress in his pursuits.

"We have our discussions going and my sense is it's going to take a little more time on a couple different fronts," Zduriencik said.

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

Zduriencik praises Montero's offseason workouts

Zduriencik praises Montero's offseason workouts

SAN DIEGO -- While Jesus Montero has been the subject of considerable criticism in the past, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik was effusive with his praise for the 25-year-old on Tuesday as he talked about the former top prospect's offseason efforts.

Montero, who was sidelined by the team for the final month of the 2014 season following an altercation with a Mariners scout during a Minor League game, is spending the winter in Arizona, working out daily with Mariners strength and conditioning coach James Clifford.

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

Meeting with McClendon part of Mariners auction items

Meeting with McClendon part of Mariners auction items

SAN DIEGO -- The Winter Meetings focus largely on the business of baseball, the potential wheelings and dealings between teams and players and agents. But baseball has a personal side, too, and that side rose up Monday afternoon in a Stand Up To Cancer gathering that kicked off an MLB auction to benefit LUNGevity.

For the third consecutive year, Major League Baseball, MLB Advanced Media, MLB Network and the 30 clubs have organized a Winter Meetings charity auction that includes unique baseball experiences and items to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. The initiative was inspired by the numerous employees, friends and fans of the game who have been directly affected by cancer.

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

Mariners not close on Melky; widen RF search

Mariners not close on Melky; widen RF search

SAN DIEGO -- While talk circulated quickly around the start of the Winter Meetings that the Mariners were zeroing in on a deal with free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, word emerged Monday afternoon that the two sides weren't that close and the club was widening its search for a right fielder.

General manager Jack Zduriencik declined comment on Cabrera or any specific free agents, but said Monday evening that nothing was imminent on any fronts after meeting with numerous teams and player agents in the opening day of baseball's annual gathering of executives.

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

Mariners happy to go with Zunino, Sucre behind plate

Mariners happy to go with Zunino, Sucre behind plate

SAN DIEGO -- While several Major League clubs are shopping their catchers, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said Monday he's pleased with his current group of young backstops as the Winter Meetings got underway.

Although Seattle reportedly showed some interest earlier this offseason in top free agent Russell Martin before he signed with Toronto, they don't appear in the market now for two available catchers: Wilin Rosario of the Rockies and Dioner Navarro of the Blue Jays.

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

Zduriencik keeping tabs on former Mariner Gutierrez

Zduriencik keeping tabs on former Mariner Gutierrez

SAN DIEGO -- Former Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez hit a home run in his first at-bat in the Venezuelan Winter League on Monday as he began preparing for what could be a comeback attempt in Major League Baseball.

Gutierrez, 31, spent all of 2014 on the restricted list after telling the Mariners he wanted to sit out the season to deal with ongoing issues with an inflammatory nerve condition called ankylosing spondylitis.

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

'I'm here to win,' Cruz says of joining Mariners

Right-handed slugger introduced to Seattle

'I'm here to win,' Cruz says of joining Mariners

SEATTLE -- When they signed Robinson Cano a year ago to one of the richest contracts in Major League history, the Mariners got more than just the game's premier second basemen. Turns out they also landed a first-class recruiter and drawing card for other talented players.

That impact became apparent Thursday when slugger Nelson Cruz, a long-time friend of Cano and fellow Dominican standout, finalized his four-year, $58 million deal to join a Seattle club looking to continue its rise in the American League West.

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

Mariners add starting pitcher Happ in deal for Saunders

Seattle gets 'left-hander with experience' to address one of top offseason goals

Mariners add starting pitcher Happ in deal for Saunders

SEATTLE -- Looking to add veteran depth to one of the American League's top pitching staffs, the Mariners acquired left-hander J.A. Happ from the Blue Jays in exchange for outfielder Michael Saunders, the club announced on Wednesday.

Coming on the heels of an agreement with free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz, which is expected to be formally announced Thursday at an 11 a.m. PT news conference, the move checks off another box on general manager Jack Zduriencik's to-do list.

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