One-year contract 'roll of the dice'

Updated: January 4, 2005, 8:23 PM ET
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Shortstop Pokey Reese agreed Tuesday to a $1.2 million, one-year contract with the Seattle Mariners, an agreement with a club option that could make the deal worth up to $4.45 million over two seasons.

Reese received a $100,000 signing bonus with a base salary for next season of $800,000 and up to $300,000 in performance bonuses.

Seattle has a $2.25 million option that could escalate to $2.75 million depending on starts this year, and he could make up to $500,000 in performance bonuses during the second season.

The 31-year-old Reese played in 96 games with the World Series champion Boston Red Sox last season, making 57 starts at shortstop and 18 at second base. He missed 45 games with a strained ribcage and played late in the season as a defensive substitute.

"We are rolling the dice a little bit," Seattle general manager Bavasi said. "We still have to make sure we have others capable of playing shortstop behind him, but he's never begged off playing. His injuries have been real."

He's played only 133 games over the past two seasons but made just six errors in 280 chances last season at shortstop, a .979 fielding average, and one error in 113 chances at second base for a .991 fielding average.

He'll join an infield in Seattle that includes Bret Boone at second base and two other free agent pickups on the corners: Adrian Beltre at third base and Richie Sexson at first.

"We basically have a Gold Glover at every position in the infield," Bavasi said. "In addition, Pokey can handle the bat and runs very well. We think he's a great fit for our ballclub."

Reese hit .221 last season with seven doubles, two triples, three home runs and six stolen bases. He's a .248 career hitter in nine seasons who has stolen at least 25 bases four times.

Last season, the Mariners started with veteran Rich Aurilia at shortstop by traded him to San Diego after he struggled in the field and had problems adjusting at the plate in the American League.

Rookie Jose Lopez played 57 games after that and hit .232, but team officials were evaluating the 22-year-old prospect. He's expected to open next season at Triple-A Tacoma.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Mariners gave utility player Jolbert Cabrera his unconditional release. His rights were sold to an unidentified Japanese team for next season, and Bavasi said Cabrera "did well, very well" financially.

"The 32-year-old Cabrera played 113 games and hit .270 last season while playing seven positions for the Mariners. Bavasi said if Seattle is healthy next season, there wouldn't be much playing time for Cabrera.

"For the sake of addressing an everyday need, we gave up some depth on bench," Bavasi said.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press