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The Mariners have not confirmed the deal, but shortly after CBSSports.com reported the news on Wednesday, Baker tweeted a photo of himself in front of the Space Needle and said, "Thanks for all the positive vibes being sent my way. Next Chapter begins. @Mariners."
SEATTLE -- Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen proved his versatility -- and personality -- once again at last weekend's FanFest with several impromptu singing and dancing performances atop the Mariners' dugout at Safeco Field. But the looming question for Wilhelmsen now figures to be where exactly he fits into Seattle's pitching plans when the games begin this spring.
Wilhelmsen is a unique talent, and not just in terms of his entertainment value for fans and fellow relievers. After getting out of baseball and working as a bartender from 2004-08, the lanky right-hander became one of the game's better human-interest stories by landing a bullpen job with the Mariners in 2011 and saving 53 games as Seattle's closer from '12-13.
MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday, Jan. 30, on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at baseball's Top 10 prospects at each position.
If chicks dig the long ball, then there's no doubt third base is the sexiest position among prospects. It's home to the three best power prospects in the game in Kris Bryant (Cubs) and Joey Gallo (Rangers) -- the last two Minor League home run champions -- and Miguel Sano (Twins). It will be interesting to see how many of these guys remain at the hot corner in the long term, because position changes have been hinted at for at least eight of them, and only Jake Lamb (D-backs) projects as a quality defender.
ATLANTA -- As a frightening string of destructive tornadoes ripped through the Southeast on April 27, 2011, Mike Dunn took precautionary measures to protect his Class A Rome Braves players and the visiting Asheville Tourists club that included a young second baseman named Russell Wilson.
Wilson's baseball career was nearing its end, but his leadership abilities were on full display as he helped take control of a potentially dangerous situation.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
SEATTLE -- For Fernando Rodney, the arrow has gone international.
When the Mariners closer peers skyward as he pulls back his imaginary bow following every save, he pictures the arrow sailing far into the distance. But even Rodney seems surprised that his trademark move has become familiar to young fans in South Korea, where he visited last week on a personal goodwill tour that included one stop in a private school for deaf children.
SEATTLE -- Looking to add some outfield depth to their organization, the Mariners officially signed veterans Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez to Minor League contracts on Monday and extended invitations to next month's Major League camp.
Neither addition was a surprise as Gutierrez and Chavez both have long histories with Seattle. They also agreed to Minor League deals that don't require opening a spot on the 40-man roster unless they make the Major League squad at some point.
SEATTLE -- Unseasonably warm winter weather and a building excitement over a club expected to challenge for an American League playoff berth in 2015 led to record-setting attendance at the weekend's 35th annual Mariners FanFest at Safeco Field.
A crowd of 13,384 came through the gates on Sunday, enjoying a sunny, 60-degree afternoon and pushing the two-day total to 25,290. The total attendance broke last year's mark of 21,019. Saturday's attendance of 11,906 set a single-day record that was then broken by Sunday's gathering.
SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz insists he's still a kid at heart, so the new Mariners slugger fit right in during his first public appearance with his new club on Saturday at Safeco Field.
With thousands of youngsters running around the field and soaking up the Mariners FanFest with their families, Cruz stood out as the headline attraction for an event that drew a record 11,906 opening-day fans, breaking last year's first-day mark of 10,903.
In 2011, Felix Hernandez raised the 12th Man flag at CenturyLink Field. To return the favor and pay their respects to King Felix, the heart of the Seahawks defense attended a Mariners game against the Rangers in 2013. Did a bit of Hernandez's winning ways rub off?
SEATTLE -- The Mariners unveiled a fresh look with some old-school trimmings on Friday, as new slugger Nelson Cruz and pitchers James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Charlie Furbush served as models introducing the club's new alternate uniforms.
The alternate jerseys will be worn on Sunday home games only. The Mariners already have their regular home whites and road gray uniforms, along with an alternate "Northwest Green" jersey that is worn strictly for Friday games.
Multiple studies have shown that naps increase productivity with NASA pilots showing improved performance and alertness following a few winks. Count Mariners closer Fernando Rodney in the camp of the converted.
Coming off a 2014 season in which he lead the league with 48 saves and posted his third consecutive above-average ERA+, the 37-year-old hurler admitted that after coming to the park and getting ready, he'll "sometimes take a nap."
SEATTLE -- With the Mariners sitting less than a month from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, expectations continue to climb as the club is being mentioned in many quarters as a strong contender in the American League West.
But general manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Lloyd McClendon know none of the winter talk means a thing once games begin, and their focus is on getting the Mariners ready to raise the bar once the regular season opens April 6.
Chemistry is an important element for any team, so it makes sense that someone at Saturday's Mariners FanFest wanted to know how well the bullpen could harmonize. It's perhaps less intuitive that she meant it literally. Apparently pitching coach Rick Waits and reliever Tom Wilhelmsen like to sing "Build Me Up Buttercup" together and she wanted to be sure that fellow pitcher Charlie Furbush could keep up.
He sang along, but Wilhemsen was the real star.
SEATTLE -- Jesus Montero might not have a definite spot in the Mariners' plans at the moment, but the former top hitting prospect still has a place in the organization and an opportunity to compete for a job starting this spring.
General manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Lloyd McClendon both expressed optimism about Montero's offseason workouts at Thursday's Mariners pre-Spring Training luncheon. The 25-year-old has dropped about 40 pounds from last year and is at the requested reporting weight of 235 that he far overshot last spring at the start of a disappointing season.
SEATTLE -- J.A. Happ's velocity went up last year. So did the expectations for the Seattle Mariners.
So now that the Mariners have traded for the veteran left-hander to fill out their rotation, Happ finds himself in a new situation for a team on the rise. The Mariners won 87 games last year, were in the playoff race until the last game of the season, picked up the 2014 Major League home run leader, Nelson Cruz, in the offseason, and as a result are being picked by pundits to have a real shot at winning the American League West.
SEATTLE -- Shawn O'Malley, a 27-year-old utility infielder who played 11 games for the Angels last season, signed a Minor League deal with the Mariners on Thursday with an invitation to Major League camp.
O'Malley graduated from Southridge High in Kennewick, Wash., in 2006 and was a fifth-round Draft pick of the Rays. He reached the Majors for the first time last season with the Angels, where he got 16 at-bats as a September callup. He hit .330 in 89 games for Triple-A Salt Lake City.
On his first day of Spring Training last February in Peoria, Ariz., Felix Hernandez was all aglow. The Mariners' ace gushed over the arrival of superstar Robinson Cano and another free-agent import, Fernando Rodney.
"All we need is a little patience -- and passion," Hernandez said. "Cano's one of the best players in the game. He's going to help a lot. And for the ninth inning we got a guy who's closed for a long time. Fernando has experience -- and no fear.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
SEATTLE -- While expectations are already high for 2015, the Mariners plan to literally cast a new light on their upcoming season as the club announced Tuesday that Safeco Field will be the first Major League stadium to illuminate its playing field with LED lights.
LED (light emitting diode) uses multiple narrow beams of light to produce a brighter and more uniform illumination than the former metal halide fixtures. Installation of the new lighting system was completed this month at Safeco and will be unveiled to the public at the team's 17th annual FanFest on Saturday and Sunday.
Can you construct a scenario where Jesus Montero breaks camp on the Mariners' 25-man roster?
-- Keith P., Tacoma, Wash.
SEATTLE -- Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano has been a big hit for his hometown Estrellas De Oriente club in the Dominican Republic Winter League playoffs for the past week, where he finished up his offseason stint on Monday night, according to reports from Dominican media.
Cano received permission from the Mariners to play a limited number of games in the Dominican as he returns from a broken right pinkie toe, and he showed no signs of any problems while hitting .500 (9-for-18) with a triple, two doubles, five RBIs and three runs scored in five outings.
The Mariners avoided arbitration hearings with five of six eligible players, agreeing to terms with outfielders Dustin Ackley, Justin Ruggiano and Austin Jackson, pitcher Charlie Furbush and first baseman Logan Morrison.
Pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen remains the only Mariners arbitration-eligible player who is unsigned.
SEATTLE -- A year ago, the Mariners arrived at Spring Training with a pretty wide-open first base competition, as newcomers Corey Hart and Logan Morrison were expected to challenge incumbent Justin Smoak for playing time.
Things have changed in 2015, however. A month from the start of camp, only Morrison returns from that group. And in fact, Morrison is the only player on Seattle's 40-man roster with any real first-base experience at the Major League level.
For those of you completely engulfed by the baseball world and all the Hot Stove season has to offer, the NFL playoffs are a thing and they're happening this weekend. In the NFC, only the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers remain. As they prepare to duke it out for the right to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLIX, their fans are getting heated in support of their teams.
Is there anything to the rumor of Brad Miller moving to the outfield and where did that come from?
-- Caleb F., Bellingham, Wash.
SEATTLE -- The Mariners have acquired left-hander Mike Kickham from the Cubs for Minor League pitcher Lars Huijer, the club announced Wednesday.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Kickham, left-hander Anthony Fernandez was designated for assignment. Seattle's 40-man roster remains full.
Logan Morrison didn't become an MLB outfielder by being ignorant to his strengths and weaknesses. He's fully aware that he's better at baseball than he is at, say, designing fashion, which is why LoMo is crowdsourcing his attempt to become more fashionable in 2015.