UPDATE: Branyan headed back to M's in confusing deal

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UPDATE, 12:03 PM:  Castrovince adds this morning that the Mariners will pick up the rest of Branyan’s nearly $1.2 million in remaining salary.  Yup, the deal just got even more perplexing.

12:18 AM:  Here’s an odd one.

According to Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, the Mariners have reacquired first baseman Russell Branyan from the Indians for 23-year-old center fielder Ezequiel Carrera and 21-year-old shortstop Juan Diaz.

Carrera and Diaz are far from top prospects, but Branyan is 34 and clearly at the tail end of his career.  The Mariners had plenty of chances to re-sign him this offseason and never made it happen.  Now 14 games back in the American League West standings, are they really thinking that his bat is going to provide a serious boost?

Branyan was hitting a respectable .263/.328/.491 with 10 home runs for Cleveland, but there are too many holes in Seattle this season.  It just doesn’t make sense to deal young talent.

Known mostly for his speed, Carrera was hitting .268/.339/.318 with zero home runs and nine stolen bases in 64 games this season for Triple-A Tacoma.  Diaz was batting .295 with a .779 OPS, seven home runs and 41 RBI in 254 at-bats with Single-A High Desert.

The Indians are expected to recall Matt LaPorta from Triple-A Columbus, where he has been mashing to the tune of a 1.061 OPS since his June 7 demotion.  He will start for the rest of the season at first base.

Report: Mariners sign Juan Nicasio to two-year deal

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Mariners have signed pitcher Juan Nicasio to a two-year contract, pending a physical.

Nicasio, 31, spent last season with the Pirates, Phillies, and Cardinals, putting up an aggregate 2.61 ERA with a 72/20 K/BB ratio in 72 1/3 innings. He appeared in 76 games, leading the National League.

Nicasio will help bolster the Mariners’ bullpen behind closer Edwin Diaz. It’s not known exactly what role he’ll have but it seems reasonable to assume he’ll handle mostly the seventh inning while Nick Vincent will set up for Diaz. Nicasio does have plenty of starting experience so he could also spot start in a pinch.