SEATTLE – The Mariners’ offseason makeover now includes a closer.
Reliever Steve Cishek and the Mariners finalized a $10 million, two-year contract Monday, with Seattle intent of making him the closer.
It’s an opportunity Cishek was seeking this offseason after losing the closer role last season in Miami before being traded to St. Louis.
“Last year, losing that closing job was a huge disappointment to me and I was disappointed in myself, not the organization, because I knew I didn’t pitch up to my expectations,” Cishek said. “To have this opportunity again to be able to close games out and help this team win some ball games is mind-blowing to me. I’m just excited to get this thing started.”
He gets $4 million next year and $6 million in 2017. Cishek can earn an additional $4.5 million annually in bonuses for games finished: $250,000 each for 25 and 30, and $500,000 apiece for 35 and each additional five through 60.
The 29-year-old split last season between the Marlins and Cardinals, appearing in 59 games.
But he’s being brought to Seattle for what he did in 2013 and 2014 as the closer in Miami. Cishek, who has a unique sidearm delivery, had 34 saves in 2013 and 38 saves in 2014. Closer was one of the few remaining uncertainties in general manager Jerry Dipoto’s massive offseason overhaul of Seattle’s roster after the club traded Carson Smith and Tom Wilhelmsen to fill gaps in other spots.
Dipoto said the plan is for Charlie Furbush and Joaquin Benoit to be the primary setup men before turning to Cishek.
“You don’t get very many opportunities to bring on a closer of Steve’s magnitude in this type of way. We’re excited to bring him on,” Dipoto said.
Cishek’s struggles last year started in spring training when he said he was far too wrapped up in a drop in his velocity. Cishek blew four saves and lost the closer job after blowing saves on consecutive days in May against the Giants and Dodgers.
He was traded to St. Louis in late July and made 27 appearances for the Cardinals but was not often used late in games.
“I wanted to pitch in the back end of the bullpen again. I didn’t get to do that too much in St. Louis because their bullpen was amazing and I understood,” Cishek said. “But at the same time I like to be the guy that has all the pressure on him, that the rest of the team relies on to finish a game out.”
Seattle designated for assignment left-hander Rob Rasmussen to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
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