Olerud's days in Seattle are over (Getty Images)
In a lost season filled with disappointment, the Seattle Mariners are reportedly going to either release or designate John Olerud for assignment today in order to make room for DH Bucky Jacobsen. LHP George Sherrill was called up to the Mariners yesterday, a move that has already been made official. Click to read more on the overhaul of the Mariners roster.
As first reported by John Hickey of the Seattle P-I Thursday morning, John Olerud's days in Seattle appear to be over. The report states that, barring a last-minute deal, Olerud will either be released or designated for assigment by the Mariners, giving the team 10 days to either trade, release or outright the Washington native.
The transaction is yet another in a string of recent moves designed to help the Mariners, 32-54 on the season and 17 games out of first place, start building for the future around their youth.
By moving Olerud off the 40-man roster, the Mariners opened up a second spot on the roster after having trimmed the number to 39 last week by designating shortstop Rich Aurilia for assignment.
Filling out the two roster spots are a pair of players from Tacoma - DH Bucky Jacobsen, arguably the most feared power hitter in the minors this season, and left-handed reliever George Sherrill, a former independent leaguer who has been dominant since joining the organization last summer.
Jacobsen, a 6-foot-4, 270 pound monster at the plate and recent winner of the Triple-A Home Run Derby, pummeled Pacific Coast League pitching this year by hitting .325 with 25 home runs and 86 RBI.
Olerud, meanwhile, in the final year of his two-year, $15 million contract, was batting a weak .245 with only 22 RBI on the year having been the every-day first baseman since opening day.
The former Washington State product was in his fifth season with Seattle after earlier stops with the New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays, and was one of the Mariners top run producers over his first three years with the team. He drove in 103 runs in his first year with Seattle in 2000, 95 in 2001 and 102 in 2002. That production started to slip last season, when at age 34 Olerud drove in just 83 and saw his batting average slip to .269.
Rather than turn it around this season, the offensive numbers only continued to dip for the 16-year veteran and fan favorite in Seattle. And at a power position like first base, the Mariners had been trying to find an answer over the past couple weeks, offering Olerud to anyone willing to listen. According to the P-I, Olerud was dangled to San Francisco in return for first baseman J.T. Snow last week but he took advantage of his no-trade clause to veto the deal.
Jacobsen, a 28-year-old right-handed slugger, has played almost exclusively as a designated hitter with Tacoma this season, so to think he would replace Olerud at first is probably not a fair assumption. A more likely move would be for the Mariners to shift current third baseman Scott Spiezio to his natural position of first base, insert rookie Justin Leone as the every-day third baseman, and have Jacobsen take some of Edgar Martinez’s at bats at DH.
Sherrill becomes, at least for the time being, the third southpaw in the Mariners bullpen along with Mike Myers and Ron Villone. Eddie Guardado, the team’s closer all season, is also a lefty. An overpowering presence on the mound, Sherrill hits 91-94 on the radar gun with his fastball and compliments it with a nasty slider that he developed over the last year. The 27-year-old held PCL hitters in check this season as the Rainiers closer, earning 13 saves with an ERA of 2.37.
Look for more moves to be made, with a number of teams interested in Mike Myers in particular, to trim the number of left-handers down in the Mariners bullpen.
The trip to the big leagues will be the first for both Sherrill and Jacobsen.