Mariners finalize deal with lefty Joe Saunders and designate Mike Carp for assignment

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From MLB.com’s Greg Johns comes word that the Mariners have officially announced their one-year, $6.5 million contract with left-hander Joe Saunders. The deal includes another $1 million in performance-based incentives and a mutual option for 2014.

To clear a spot on their 25- and 40-man rosters, the M’s designated outfielder Mike Carp for assignment. He’s a 26-year-old with a decent .740 career OPS and should draw interest from several teams.

Saunders, 31, registered a 4.07 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 174 2/3 innings last season between the D’Backs and Orioles. He had a 3.69 ERA in 212 innings with Arizona in 2011, though he struck out only 108 hitters.

Seattle has added Saunders, Michael Morse, Kendrys Morales, Kelly Shoppach, Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay so far this offseason. And Jon Garland and Kameron Loe, if you want to count them too.

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.