Mariners decline options on Franklin Gutierrez, Joe Saunders

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Franklin Gutierrez and Joe Saunders will both be free agents after the Mariners declined their 2014 options.

Gutierrez once looked like a potential star, combining exceptional defense in center field with above-average offense, but he’s been healthy enough to play just 41, 40, and 92 games during the past three seasons and Seattle chose not to keep him around for $7.5 million.

Saunders signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal as a free agent last offseason and that deal included a 2014 mutual option that’s now been turned down after he threw 183 innings with a 5.36 ERA at age 32.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.