Franklin Gutierrez hit .349 in the Venezuelan Winter League


Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez appeared in only 40 games last season due to head and heel injuries, and he batted just .260/.309/.420 when he wasn’t on the disabled list. But there may be reason for a hint of optimism about what’s ahead in 2013.

Gutierrez is — first and foremost — healthy. He hasn’t experienced any sort of concussion-related symptoms over the past several months and his plantar fasciitis is seemingly under control. Then there’s his promising performance in the Venezuelan Winter League, which recently wrapped up its regular season schedule.

According to beat writer Greg Johns of, the 29-year-old hit .349/.411/.523 with three homers, six doubles and 19 RBI in 22 games for Leones del Caracas while playing his usual brand of elite-level outfield defense. He was 8-for-15 in his final three games and finished with a total of 13 runs scored.

If Gutierrez proves to be a reliable regular this year in Seattle, the M’s can shift Michael Saunders to right field. Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay will presumably share left field, with Casper Wells providing overall depth.

Royals sign Justin Grimm to a one-year, $1.25 million deal

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The Royals signed free agent reliever Justin Grimm to a one-year, $12.5 million deal, the club announced Sunday. Grimm can earn up to $300,000 in additional incentives, the specifics of which have yet to be disclosed.

The 29-year-old right-hander was released by the Cubs on Thursday. Prior to his release, he was slated to make $2.2 million after losing his arbitration case against the team. Grimm polished off a five-year campaign with the Cubs in 2017 and produced an unimpressive 5.53 ERA, 4.4 BB/9 and 9.6 SO/9 over 55 1/3 innings.

In a corresponding move, right-hander Sam Gaviglio was designated for assignment. He pitched in five games for the Royals this spring, racking up 13 hits, eight runs and seven strikeouts in seven innings.