Yankees decline 2012 option on reliever Damaso Marte

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Damaso Marte missed all of this season following shoulder surgery last October and today the Yankees officially declined his $4 million option for 2012, buying the left-handed reliever out for $250,000 instead.

Marte was consistently one of the best southpaw setup men in baseball prior to joining the Yankees in a mid-2008 trade with the Pirates, posting a 3.18 ERA in 464 innings while striking out 505 and holding opponents to a .225 batting average.

Because of injuries Marte has thrown just 49 innings in three-and-a-half seasons in New York, posting a 6.02 ERA while providing essentially zero value during a three-year, $12 million contract. At age 36 he’ll likely have to settle for a minor-league deal this winter.

Mariners claim Kaleb Cowart off waivers from Angels

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The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.

Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field.  He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.

Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.