Branyan agrees to one-year contract with Mariners

Updated: December 4, 2008, 12:56 PM ET
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Free agent Russell Branyan and the Seattle Mariners agreed Wednesday to a $1.4 million, one-year contract.

The left-handed-hitting Branyan batted .250 with 12 homers and 20 RBIs in just 132 at-bats with Milwaukee last season.

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"He can hit them a country mile," new Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said.

A penchant for strikeouts and slumps, however, has kept Branyan from keeping an everyday job in the majors.

Branyan began this year at Triple-A and was brought up by Milwaukee on May 24, then was sidelined from Aug. 10 to Sept. 26 with a strained muscle in his right side and was left off the Brewers' postseason roster.

He has hit 133 home runs in 11 major league seasons, including 24 in 2002 and 18 in 2006. He can also play first base, third base and be a designated hitter.

In addition to his base salary, the 32-year-old Branyan could make $350,000 in performance bonuses. He would get $50,000 each for 200, 250, 300, 350 and 400 plate appearances, and $100,000 for 450 plate appearances.

"[This] will be an opportunity to go out and prove myself every day," he said. "I'm very excited."

Branyan said Pittsburgh also was serious about giving him a one-year contract. He declined a one-year deal with a second-year option to play every day in Japan.

Seattle will be Branyan's eighth team since he broke into the big leagues with Cleveland in 1998.

Zduriencik also said teams have called to express interest in Mariners closer J.J. Putz and Gold Glove third baseman Adrian Beltre going into baseball's winter meetings next week in Las Vegas.

"People have inquired about them, yes," Zduriencik said. "But there has not been a specific offer from anybody."

Zduriencik is preparing for his first winter meetings as a GM.

"We're going to be open-minded," he said. "I'm in no mood to give anyone away. I'm in the mood to improve this ballclub."

In other news Wednesday, Seattle hired Rick Adair as pitching coach and John Wetteland as bullpen coach.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press