MLB roundup: Mariners close to deal with Franklin Gutierrez, Giants inquire on Mark Mulder, more

J. Meric

The Mariners are close to bringing back one of the league's better defensive outfielders. Plus, news on a couple of guys who are attempting to come back from lengthy absences.

The Seattle Mariners are nearing a deal with free-agent outfielder Franklin Gutierrezaccording to Fox Sports' Jon Morosi.

Gutierrez, 30, has experienced a sharp decline in his production both at the plate and in the field in recent seasons. Since posting a .283/.339/.425 line with 18 home runs and finishing 29 runs above average in the outfield as a 26-year-old in 2009, Gutierrez has hit just .241/.289/.363 and has been a combined 10 runs above average on defense. He has played in only 173 games since the start of the 2011 season.

The terms of the deal are not yet known, though Gutierrez surely won't approach the $7 million he made last season.

Giants check in on Mulder

The San Francisco Giants inquired on 36-year-old pitcher Mark Mulderaccording to multiple reports, but apparently are unwilling to meet the demands of the veteran hurler, who is attempting a big-league comeback after sitting out for five seasons.

Mulder is looking for a major-league contract, Giants general manager Brian Sabean told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, and the team balked at the request. Mulder has since refuted that claim:

Mulder made the decision to attempt a comeback after changing his delivery to model that of Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez. He has reportedly worked out for multiple teams and has said he hopes to land a spring training invite.

Deal between Howell, Dodgers official

The Los Angeles Dodgers have officially re-signed free-agent relief pitcher J.P. Howellaccording to ESPN's Buster Olney. The deal between Howell and Dodgers was first reported by's Ken Gurnick on Monday.

Howell, 30, posted a 2.03 ERA in 62 innings for the Dodgers in 2013, his first year in the National League after spending parts of seven seasons with the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays. The veteran left-hander will earn $11.25 million over two years, per Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

Morales not solely viewed as DH?

Kendrys Morales is being looked at by teams in both leagues, according to his agent, Scott Boras. Morales is widely viewed as solely a designated hitter at this point in his career, but if Boras' claim is accurate, there are clubs out there who believe he can still play first base.

Morales appeared in only 31 games at first base in 2013 and was slightly below-average, according to Baseball-Reference. It has been almost five years since the 30-year-old Cuban has played in more than 100 games in the field in a single season.

The switch-hitting slugger hit .277/.336/.449 with 23 home runs for the Seattle Mariners last season and has recently been linked to the Angels and Giants.

Three players sign minor-league deals

Catcher Matt Treanor, infielder Steven Tolleson and outfielder Cole Gillespie each signed minor-league deals on Tuesday.

Treanor, 37, agreed with the Indians on a deal that includes a spring training invite. He last appeared at the big-league level in 2012, when he hit .175/.281/.282 in 122 plate appearances with the Dodgers. Tolleson, who announced his decision to sign with the Blue Jays via Twitter, also last saw MLB time in 2012, hitting .183/.227/.310 for the Baltimore Orioles. Gillespie joined the Mariners, according to SB Nation's Chris Cotillo, after posting a .203/.294/.237 line with the Giants and Cubs last season.

Red Sox release Carpenter

The Red Sox released right-handed pitcher Chris Carpenter on Tuesday, according to Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe. Carpenter was Boston's compensation for losing former general manager Theo Epstein to the Cubs following the 2011 season.

Carpenter will sign with the Yakult Swallows of Nippon Professional Baseball, per Abraham. The 27-year-old reliever has a 5.17 ERA with 10 strikeouts and 17 walks in 15⅔ big-league innings.

Knapp attempting comeback

Jason Knapp, the Phillies' second-round pick in the 2008 draft, is attempting a comeback after missing each of the past three seasons, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

Knapp was a key cog in the deal that sent Cliff Lee to the Phillies in 2009. At that time, Knapp was coming off of a successful professional debut in which he posted a 2.61 ERA in 31 innings as a 17-year-old in the Gulf Coast League. He continued to pitch well at age-appropriate levels until an injury cost him the entire 2011 season. The Indians released him in August of 2012.

Knapp struck out 12 batters per nine innings throughout his minor-league career, which spanned 156⅓ innings and topped out at Class-A Lake County.

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