In the endless search for starting pitching depth, the Seattle Mariners have decided to give a Northwest guy a chance to resurrect his baseball career.
On Friday, the team announced the signing of Pasco’s Jeremy Bonderman to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.
Bonderman, now 30 years old, had his once-promising career derailed by arm troubles. He last pitched in the major leagues in 2010. He went 8-10 with a 5.53 earned run average.
The arm troubles began early in the 2008 season. After making 12 starts, doctors discovered a blood clot in Bonderman’s shoulder that required surgery and forced him to miss rest of the season.
He came back in 2009 and made one start, but was shut down with more pain in the shoulder. After the 2010 season, Bonderman became a free agent. He suffered an elbow injury during offseason workouts and decided to retire at age 28.
However, he decided to give baseball another shot. He underwent surgery to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament (Tommy John) in April. He’s been on a throwing program and working out in the Tri-Cities in preparation for the 2013 season.
A standout at Pasco High School, Bonderman was taken with the 26th pick of the 2001 amateur draft by the Oakland A’s. After one season with the A’s, Bonderman was the “player to be named later” in a three-team trade that featured Carlos Pena going from the A’s to Detroit and Jeff Weaver going from Detroit to New York.
He made his big league debut in 2003 at the age of 20. He made 28 starts and five relief appearances, finishing with a 6-19 record and a 5.56 ERA.
But he slowly built on the rough rookie season. In 2004, he posted an 11-14 record with a 4.89 ERA and posted a pair of shutouts.
Over the next three seasons, Bonderman posted three straight winning records, going 39-30 with a 4.52 ERA over that span. He made three postseason starts in 2006, posting a 1-0 record with a 3.10 ERA.
With the trade of Jason Vargas to the Los Angeles Angels for Kendrys Morales, the Mariners need starting pitching depth. Bonderman is a low-risk, low-budget move that could pay off. But expect Seattle to add more pitching in the next week or two. General manager Jack Zduriencik said he plays to bolster the depth via free agency or trade.
The Mariners will also likely announce the signing of at least one outfielder in the days after Christmas. They are also planning to meet with free agent outfielder Cody Ross.