Notes: Guillen likely to be a free agent
Rising youngsters Jones, Balentien may replace slugger
Jose Guillen's agent says the Mariners right fielder probably will terminate his contract and become a free agent."That's the way it's headed," Adam Katz said during a brief telephone conversation. The contract Guillen signed last Dec. 4, which paid him $5 million this past season, included a "mutual option" in 2008 worth $9 million, or a $500,000 buyout. When asked if there was a deadline to terminate the option, Katz snapped, "There is, but I'm a busy man and I don't have time to look it up." Katz spent several days in Seattle near the end of the regular season discussing a new deal for Guillen, who batted .290 with 23 home runs and 99 RBIs, but was unable to work out a multi-year contract extension. The much-traveled, and sometimes controversial, Guillen also provided clubhouse leadership. He seemed to fit in perfectly and said several times during the season that he wanted to return to Seattle next season. His overall production led to speculation that the Mariners would offer at least a two-year contract extension. In September, his agent refuted a published report that Guillen wanted a three-year contract. The Mariners have not commented one way or the other, but might be reluctant to commit long term to Guillen because young outfielders Adam Jones and Wladimir Balentien appear close to becoming outfield fixtures, possibly flanking center fielder Ichiro Suzuki as early as next season. Jones, the Mariners' first-round draft choice in 2003, had an All-Star season for Triple-A Tacoma, batting .314 with 25 home runs and 84 RBIs, while Balentien batted .291, hit 24 home runs and drove in 84 runs for the Rainiers. Balentien, 22, has one option remaining, meaning the Mariners could send him back to the Minor Leagues in 2008 without exposing him to waivers, which would make him available to other teams. Meanwhile, potential starting pitcher Cha Seung Baek and infielder Mike Morse are out of options, so they must be on the 25-man Opening Day roster or else have to pass through waivers to be assigned to the Minor Leagues coming out of camp. Getting close: Manager John McLaren says he is "very close" to finalizing his coaching staff. From all indications, Mel Stottlemyre will become the pitching coach, Eddie Rodriguez the first-base coach, Norm Charlton the bullpen coach, Jim Riggleman the bench coach, and probably Larry Bowa the third-base coach. The Mariners are expected to name the entire staff when all the pieces are in place. As of Thursday night, all but one of the selections had been finalized. Hutch nominee: Outfielder Raul Ibanez, recognized through MLB as a class act, has been selected as a finalist for the annual Hutch Award, presented in Seattle each January. The Hutch Award is presented to the Major League player who best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire of former star pitcher and manager Fred Hutchinson, who grew up in Seattle. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center -- which was named in Hutch's honor by his brother Bill, a surgeon -- is an independent, nonprofit research institution dedicated to the understanding, treatment and prevention of cancer and other potentially fatal diseases. The 2007 Hutch Award recipient will be selected in mid-November through a vote of all surviving former awardees. Through the years, 42 players have been honored. Mickey Mantle accepted the inaugural award in 1965, the year after Hutchinson succumbed to cancer at age 45. Hall-of-Famers Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, Al Kaline, Willie McCovey and Lou Brock all have received the Hutch Award, and in more recent years, Jamie Moyer, Curt Schilling, Trevor Hoffman, Craig Biggio and Mark Loretta have won the coveted award. Joining Ibanez on the finalist list are: Paul Byrd (Indians), Orlando Hudson (Diamondbacks), David Ortiz (Red Sox), Russ Ortiz (Giants), Matt Holliday (Rockies), Johan Santana (Twins), Mike Sweeney (Royals), Nick Swisher (Athletics) and Woody Williams (Astros). The Hutch Award winner will be announced in January. Terrific trio: The three position players representing the Mariners in the Arizona Fall League are off to good starts. Catcher/designated hitter Jeff Clement was batting .400 (6-for-15) with one home run and three RBIs after four games; third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo was 7-for-18 (.389) with two RBIs; and second baseman Yung Chi Chen was 6-for-17 (.359) with one home run and three RBIs in his first four games. Right-handed pitchers Joe Woerman (0-0, 0.00) and Ricky Orta (2-0, 0-0) also have performed well, while Mumba Rivera (6.75 ERA in two outings) and Brodie Downs (six earned runs in 1 1/3 innings) are off to slow starts.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.