The Seattle Mariners took their promised course
, declining the 2008 contract options for outfielder Jose Guillen and relief pitcher Chris Reitsma – leaving the door slightly ajar for both players.
Guillen, the 31-year-old who batted .290 with 23 home runs and 99 RBI last season, can still accept a player option on the same contract and return to the Mariners for $9 million next season.
For weeks, however, Guillen said he wasn’t interested in a one-year contract, even if that meant testing free agency.
"I’ve earned the right in my career to stay somewhere I’m happy, and I’m happy in Seattle," he said. "But I don’t want a one-year deal again. I’ve had those my whole career."
If Guillen declines his option, the team buyout for that $9 million contract is $500,000. They’ll owe more than that to Reitsma, who gets a $700,000 buyout on what would have been a $2.7 million deal next season.
Injuries held Reitsma, 29, to 26 appearances, during which he was 0-6 with a 7.61 earned run average. Signed as possible setup man to closer J.J. Putz, Reitsma’s right elbow was never sound for long enough to allow him to claim that role.
"If it becomes apparent they’re a goof fit for us in 2008, we can sstill negotiate with them as free agents," general manager Bill Bavasi said.
In Reitsma’s case, that would involve no more than an invitation to spring training. Will the Mariners pursue talks with Guillen?
With a starting outfield of Raul Ibanez, Ichiro Suzuki and Adam Jones – and a crowd of players who can play first base or designated hitter – the urgency to bring Guillen back on a multi-year deal isn’t there.
If, however, the Mariners sense a trade can be made for pitching from their existing roster that opens room for Guillen, they might well ask him back.