Ms hope to sign at least 10 undrafted players

By Ryan Divish / The Seattle Times

SEATTLE — With the Seattle Mariners having taken six players in this week’s truncated Major League Baseball draft, about 15 fewer than they had hoped to select, what is next for a team that is trying to accumulate talent for a farm system that needs more depth?

The Mariners will try to take advantage of new rules intended to offset teams’ financial losses caused by the coronavirus shutdown of baseball — which resulted in a five-round draft this week instead of the typical 40 rounds — by getting aggressive with non-drafted free agents.

In most years with 40 rounds, the post-draft market is limited in terms of available talent. But this year there are plenty of quality undrafted college and high-school players.

The bigger issue is the signing bonus available to players. In previous years teams could offer players a maximum of $125,000. But under a spring agreement between the owners and the MLB Players Association, all undrafted free agents can sign for a maximum of only $20,000.

The Mariners had a meeting Friday to go over their non-drafted targets.

“We’ve had some agents that have told us that none of their players they represent would sign,” said Scott Hunter, the Mariners’ director of amateur scouting. “But we will be aggressive.”

Teams can start signing players Monday.

“There are some really good players who are still left out there on the market and want to continue their careers,” Hunter said. “Some that are seniors in college, and then there’s some college juniors that have told their agents and advisers that they are interested in doing it, so we’re going to have a meeting (Friday) to really fine tune our list of targets.”

There is some concern that the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Astros and Cubs will corner the market and sign all the top players. The Mariners hope to sign at least 10 players.

“It could be a total free-for-all,” one National League scout said. “And you don’t know what they might promise for the future.”

Hunter hopes players will be realistic about their situation and the best opportunity.

“I’d love to sign as many as we can, but realistically with minor leagues possibly shrinking and no season to be played this year, I’d say five to 10 players would be our range that we’re looking at,” Hunter said.

Hunter wasn’t certain how teams would approach the situation. But he trusts the relationships his area scouts have developed with players to convince them to sign with the Mariners.

“It is a huge thing,” he said. “That’s something that we’ve always preached, is just continue to build relationships and be more human than businessman sometimes, because kids are going to be upset that they didn’t get drafted. But just let them process it now and continue to be there if they have questions.

“It really does come down to that relationship, because now it’s everybody’s playing basically free agency. It’s a cap system right now, and $20,000 is the max you can give a player, so the relationships what you can offer a player and some of the things we’ve done with our lower-end players matters.”

Hunter pointed to the relationships his scouts have built with lower-round draft picks such as Art Warren and Sam Delaplane — both 23rd-round selections — as key to sign non-drafted free agents.

“That’s something that we are very proud of as an organization,” Hunter said. “We build relationships with these players. We try to find something more than just on the field. It’s important to us.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Barely taller than the 150yard marker, Max Soterakopoulos, 6, tees off as he and his family golfs at Legion Memorial Golf Course on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 in Everett, Washington. Soterakopoulos hit a hole-in-one on the 14th hole at the golf course. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Local 6-year-old makes hole-in-one at Legion Memorial

Too hard to believe? Watch the video of Everett’s Max Soterakopoulos hitting an ace on May 29.

AquaSox's manager, Louis Boyd, Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett on July 28, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Newly promoted Marlowe helps AquaSox beat Canadians

In just his second game with Everett, the young outfielder drives in three runs in a 12-4 win.

Brandon Williamson pitches during the first game of a double header against the Hops on Sunday, June 6, 2021 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
AquaSox pitcher Williamson promoted to Double-A Arkansas

The 2019 2nd-round draft pick posted a 47.6% strikeout rate in 6 starts with Everett this season.

Everett's Olen Zellweger controls the puck against the Saskatoon Blades Friday evening at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett on November 22, 2019. The Silvertips will play Friday without fans due on-going concerns of the coronavirus pandemic. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Silvertips will play home opener on Oct. 8 in front of fans

Everett has not played with fans in the stands at Angel of the Winds Arena since March 7, 2020.

Mariner's Jailin Johnson chases down a loose ball through Glacier Peak's defense Thursday evening at Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish on May 27, 2021. Mariner won 64-36. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Boys basketball season review: Mariner dominates Wesco

The Marauders were a force on offense and defense on their way to a perfect record this past season.

Trina Davis watches the while playing a game for ASA Tel Aviv in Israel. (Moshik Oshri)
She fled rocket fire in Israel for the safety of Marysville

MPHS grad Trina Davis was enjoying her first professional soccer season when the fighting broke out.

The Herald’s Athlete of the Week poll.
Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for June 7-13

The Athlete of the Week nominees for June 7-13. Voting closes at… Continue reading

File photo
AquaSox top Canadians to snap 2-game skid

Everett gets back to its winnings ways with a 9-2 win over Vancouver.

AquaSox's manager, Louis Boyd, Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett on July 28, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
AquaSox fall in big hole, lose to Canadians

Everett allows eight runs in the first two innings in a 9-5 loss to Vancouver.

Most Read