The crowded Mariners’ bullpen is about to lose hard-throwing right-hander Arquimedes Caminero to the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Central League.
Sources confirmed Caminero, 29, is close to an agreement with the Giants. The possible move was first reported Friday on twitter by Kazuto Yamazaki of BeyondtheBoxscore.com.
The Mariners have already agreed to sell Caminero’s contract, which would also create an opening on the club’s 40-man roster.
Caminero would become the second Mariners player since the season ended to be released from his contract in order to purse an opportunity in Japan. Outfielder Stefen Romero signed last month with the Orix Buffaloes.
The Giants are based in Tokyo and generally regarded as Japan’s highest-profile franchise. They have won 36 Central League pennants and 22 Japan Series titles since 1951.
The Mariners acquired Caminero on Aug. 6 from Pittsburgh for minor-league pitchers Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez. Caminero was 1-1 with a 3.66 ERA in 18 games for the Mariners and is 7-5 with a 3.83 ERA in 149 career games.
The Mariners’ willingness to release Caminero suggests they see him as a long shot to win a spot next spring in their bullpen and as possessing limited trade value.
Caminero is not yet eligible for arbitration, which means he would likely make less than $600,000 next season, and he is under club control for four more seasons.
But he is also out of options, which means he must clear waivers in order to be sent again to the minors.
The Mariners are expected to carry five right-handed relievers next season in a seven-man bullpen. Four of those right-handed slots, barring injuries, appear taken by Edwin Diaz, Steve Cishek, Nick Vincent and Evan Scribner.
Other right-handed candidates include Dan Altavilla, Casey Fien, Tony Zych and Jonathan Aro.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners