Blue Jays trade for Miguel Olivo … and decline his 2011 option

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Last night the Blue Jays traded a player to be named later to the Rockies for catcher Miguel Olivo, and then less than two hours later they made Olivo a free agent by declining his $2.5 million option for 2011.

That may sound crazy considering Toronto had to pay Olivo a $500,000 buyout, but as Jordan Bastian of MLB.com explains it was actually a pretty shrewd move by general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

Olivo is a Type B free agent, which means the Blue Jays are now in line to receive a compensatory draft pick if he declines their offer of arbitration and signs elsewhere. Assuming that happens, they basically just bought a draft pick between the first and second rounds for $500,000 and a PTBNL.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?