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Seattle Mariners
Sports >  Seattle Mariners

Seattle Mariners add depth to pitching staff by signing Yoshihisa Hirano and Wei-Yin Chen

UPDATED: Thu., Jan. 30, 2020

Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano throws against the San Diego Padres during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Phoenix. (Ralph Freso / AP)
Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano throws against the San Diego Padres during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Phoenix. (Ralph Freso / AP)
By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

SEATTLE – The Mariners added some experienced depth to their pitching staff Thursday, signing right-handed reliever Yoshihisa Hirano to a one-year contract and Wei-Yin Chen to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Hirano, Seattle designated left-handed pitcher Ricardo Sanchez for assignment. The Mariners now have seven days to trade, release or outright Sanchez’s contract.

“We’re glad to have Yoshi on board,” said Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a news release. “We believe his combination of experience and bat-missing ability brings needed stability to our bullpen.”

An MLB source confirmed the Mariners signed Chen, though the team did not announce his signing.

Hirano, 35, spent last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, posting a 5-5 record with a save and a 4.75 ERA (28 earned runs, 53 innings pitched) with 22 walks and 61 strikeouts in 62 relief appearances.

He played 11 seasons for the Orix Buffaloes in Japan.

The Mariners are hoping Hirano can find his production from two seasons ago.

In 2018, he went 4-3 with 3 saves and a 2.44 ERA (18 ER, 66 1/3 IP), while striking out 69 and walking 23 in 75 appearances. Among qualified relievers, his 2.44 ERA was the 14th-lowest in the NL.

Chen has played eight MLB seasons, posting a 6.59 ERA last season in 68 1/3 innings pitched.

Sanchez 22, spent the 2019 season with Double-A Arkansas where he went 8-12 with a 4.75 ERA with 38 walks and 135 strikeouts. He’s out of minor league options, meaning he is likely to be designated for assignment in spring training.

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