Seattle put the finishing touches on new manager Scott Servais’ coaching staff, adding Mike Hampton as bullpen coach and Casey Candaele as first base coach.
Hampton played 16 seasons in the majors, making two All-Star teams and earning more than $125 million as a left-handed starting pitcher for six different teams. He was originally drafted by the Mariners out of high school in 1990 and came up through their farm system before debuting as a 20-year-old in 1993. He retired in 2010 and has been a pitching coach in the minors for the Angels, where he worked under new Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto.
Candaele played nine seasons in the majors, the last of which was 1997. He was hired away from the Rangers organization, where he’s been coaching in the minors and was recently promoted to field coordinator.
Right-hander Tommy Hunter, who spent this past season with the Orioles and Cubs, is drawing interest from the Tigers, Indians, and Padres as a free agent, according to Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com.
Hunter wasn’t able to earn Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s trust following a midseason trade to Chicago, but he has a solid track record of good relief work since shifting to the bullpen full time in 2013.
He logged 207 innings with a 3.26 ERA during that three-season span, walking just 1.7 batters per nine innings despite throwing in the mid-90s and significantly reducing his home run rate compared to his days as a starter. Hunter isn’t going to receive any big multi-year offers, but he’d be a good fit for a lot of teams in a middle relief role.
Ron Gardenhire failed to land a manager gig after applying for a handful of openings, including finishing runner-up for the Padres job.
San Diego was interested in hiring Gardenhire as the bench coach for rookie manager Andy Green, but he apparently wasn’t interested and now the Padres have reportedly turned their attention to Mark McGwire.
Gardenhire may still be in the picture, though. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that “it’s more likely that if Gardenhire were to join the Padres, it would be in a front-office capacity.”
While in Minnesota he was one of the least analytical managers in baseball, so a front office role seems like an odd fit unless Gardenhire’s focus with the Padres would be on a scouting side. Of course, if no teams are willing to make the longtime Twins manager their skipper and he’s not interested in working as another manager’s right-hand man, perhaps an off-field role makes sense.
As part of the Mariners’ ongoing roster overhaul under new general manager Jerry Dipoto they designated for assignment left-hander Danny Hultzen, a former top prospect and the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft.
Hultzen ranked among MLB’s top pitching prospects in 2012 and 2013, but his career has repeatedly been derailed by arm problems since then. He missed all of 2014 following shoulder surgery, pitched just eight innings this year, and has logged a grand total of 168 innings in five professional seasons.
He’s still just 25 years old, so if Hultzen can get healthy there’s plenty of time for him to get his career back on track, but with a new front office regime taking over in Seattle it’s not surprising that they’d want to move on.
Dropped from the 40-man roster by the Yankees, right-hander Chase Whitley has been claimed off waivers by the Rays.
Whitley logged 95 innings for the Yankees during the past two seasons, posting a 5.02 ERA and 76/23 K/BB ratio split between the rotation and bullpen, but underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in May and likely won’t be ready to pitch until midseason.
At age 27 and coming off a major injury he lacks upside, but Whitley has a good minor-league track record that includes a 2.89 ERA and 178/60 K/BB ratio in 196 innings at Triple-A and looks capable of being a useful back-of-the-rotation starter or middle reliever.