Report: Mariners to fire professional scouting director over Josh Lueke controversy

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Jack Zduriencik hired Carmen Fusco as the Mariners’ professional scouting director soon after he took over as general manager two offseasons ago, but Seattle’s local NBC television affiliate KING5 reports that Fusco will be let go in the wake of the controversy surrounding the team’s acquisition of prospect Josh Lueke.
Lueke missed most of last season after being charged with rape and sodomy, eventually pleading guilty to lesser charges and serving 40 days in jail, but some Mariners decision-makers–and specifically team president Chuck Armstrong–said they didn’t know of his history when they got him from the Rangers as part of the haul for Cliff Lee.
And then later there were contradictory reports about who did or didn’t know about Lueke’s history, and when they did or didn’t know. It was a big mess, and now apparently Fusco has been made the fall guy. Or one of the fall guys, at least.
“Mariners fire scouting director” is an attention-grabbing headline, but as Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider and ESPN.com notes Fusco was the professional scouting director, which is very much different than the amateur scouting director. Tom McNamara remains in the role people typically associate with the scouting director title, which is to say he’s in charge of the draft and minors while Fusco ran the big-league scouting operation.
Either way, Fusco is reportedly out of a job after 35 years in baseball and Zduriencik is burning through scapegoats pretty quickly.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.