Are Mariners up to something big?

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The Mariners’ acquisition of Jack Wilson and Ian Snell from the Pirates for five players, including former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Clement, puzzled many.

In appearance, the trade makes Seattle look like a buyer, when at 7.5 back in the AL West and 6.5 back in the wild card, it might seem more prudent to be a seller.

But Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times thinks that the Mariners might have something else up their sleeve:

Here’s another reason why this move might have been made. We’ll know by Friday if it was the reason. And that is the idea that perhaps the Mariners now have another deal in the works, a much bigger one involving Washburn, where they can land a top young shortstop prospect.

One problem with this idea is that the market for Washburn seems to be shrinking. The Brewers’ recent fade may have convinced them to pull out of the market altogether. Same for the Rays. The Phillies, obviously, don’t need him.

That leaves who? The Yankees, perhaps. The Rangers? Not so likely seeing as how the teams are in the same division. The Red Sox? Maybe, if they fail to land Roy Halladay.

Also a possibility, as Buster Olney reports, is that the Mariners will hold onto Washburn and try to sign him to a contract extension, maybe the most likely scenario of all.

Let the head-scratching continue.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.