With spring training looming just a month away, the Mariners are continuing to add final pieces to their 40-man roster in preparation for the 2019 season.
Major League Baseball sources confirm that infielder Tim Beckham and reliever Cory Gearrin have agreed to one-year big-league contracts — meaning both will be added to the 40-man roster. To make room, outfielder John Andreoli was designated for assignment.
Per a report from USA Today, Beckham will make a base salary of $1.75 million with multiple incentives that could push the deal over $2 million.
“Cory Gearrin brings much needed veteran experience and stability to the back of our bullpen. He has been a solid under the radar performer, particularly over the past two seasons,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a statement. “Tim Beckham is a very talented player who is one year removed from being one of the more productive shortstops in the American League. He is a real offensive threat with multi-position defensive versatility that fits our team very well.”
Beckham will come into camp as the expected opening-day starting shortstop. While the Mariners acquired young shortstop J.P. Crawford from the Phillies in the seven-player trade that sent Jean Segura to Philadelphia, they don’t want to rush the former top prospect into everyday MLB playing time and instead let him adapt to the organization. The Mariners have some adjustments they want Crawford to make both at the plate and in the field, and it’s likely they’ll have him do that with Class AAA Tacoma to start the season.
Dipoto recently said the team would sign a veteran infielder to handle the shortstop duties until Crawford is ready to become the everyday shortstop. Beckham, who turns 29 on January 27, fits that role in that he can switch to a utility role — something he’s done extensively the past few seasons — when Crawford is deemed ready to take over the role.
Gearrin, who turns 33 in April, pitched for the Giants, Rangers and A’s last season. He’ll add depth to a patchwork bullpen that has been decimated by offseason moves. He made a total of 62 appearances, posting a 2-1 record and 3.77 ERA in 57 1/3 innings pitched. He struck out 53 batters and walked 21. He was solid for the Rangers in a middle relief role, posting a 2.53 ERA in 21 appearances. He struck out 20 batters and walked six in 21 1/3 innings pitched.
Beckham spent last season with the Orioles, splitting time at third base and shortstop with a few games at second base sprinkled in. He played in 96 games, posting a .230/.287/.374 slash line (batting average, on-base, slugging percentage) with 17 doubles, 12 homers and 53 RBI. Beckham dealt with a handful of injuries that slowed his production. He had a bit of a breakout after he was traded to the Orioles at the deadline in 2017. In the 50 games to close out 2017, he posted a .306/.348/.523 slash line with 13 doubles, two triples, 10 homers and 26 RBI.
Coming out of Griffin High School in Georgia, Beckham was selected with the first overall pick of the 2008 draft. His combination of speed, power and athleticism in a shortstop was unique. But he never quite reached those expectations in the Rays system. He struggled with consistency in the field and tended to strike out too much at the plate.
The Rays eventually converted him more to a utility player after he failed to win the everyday shortstop job despite numerous attempts. Beckham has played all four infield positions in his career.