I’ll interrupt all this talk about the upcoming July 31 non-waiver trade deadline to bring you this moment of levity.
According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Gary Matthews Jr. has officially opted out of his contract with the Reds and is now a free agent.
Matthews, who signed a minor league contract with the Reds late last month, was hitting .317/.361/.495 with three home runs and six RBI over his first 101 at-bats with Triple-A Louisville. The Reds had until today to bring him up to the big leagues and chose not to do so.
According to what Matthews’ agent Scott Levanthal told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, his client will seek a major league contract.
“We’re not going to play Triple-A anywhere else,” Leventhal said. “He
has nothing left to prove. He’s a 10-year veteran that spent the last 30
days in Louisville and putting up good numbers.”
The 35-year-old outfielder batted .190/.266/.241 with three extra-base hits and one RBI in 58 at-bats before being released by the Mets on June 15 and has performed below replacement level since 2007. He might be waiting a while for his next gig.
The Mariners signed free agent left-hander Wade LeBlanc to a one-year deal, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported Saturday. LeBlanc previously signed a minor league agreement with the Yankees, but later requested his release following the team’s Grapefruit League outing on Friday. The Mariners have yet to confirm the deal or disclose its terms.
This is LeBlanc’s second stint with the Mariners in two years. He was initially acquired by Seattle in the summer of 2016 after the Blue Jays traded him for cash considerations, and produced a 4.50 ERA, 1.6 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 in 50 innings before getting designated for assignment in August. The 33-year-old southpaw was last seen in the majors with the Pirates, with whom he generated another 4.50 ERA, 2,3 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 68 innings in 2017. He entered free agency after the club declined his $1.25 million option for 2018.
The signing comes at a fortuitous moment for the Mariners, who were pressed to find additional bullpen depth after right-handed reliever David Phelps tore his ulnar collateral ligament last week. As with most injuries of that kind, Phelps is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2018 season. LeBlanc made a full transition to the bullpen in 2017 and boasts the kind of reverse platoon splits (.216/.270/.389 vs. righties and .292/.333/.500 vs. lefties in 2017) that will make him an effective replacement for the right-handed Phelps.