Franklin Gutierrez's Future With Seattle Mariners In Serious Doubt

By Matt Lanka
Franklin Gutierrez
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Franklin Gutierrez‘s time with the Seattle Mariners is all but over.

The 30-year-old outfielder came the Mariners by way of the Cleveland Indians in December of 2008 and looked to be a major part of the Mariners’ future in 2009 and 2010. However, due to injuries of various kinds, Gutierrez has played in just 58 games since the start of the 2012 season.

When he has been healthy, Gutierrez’s performance has been admirable. His is recognized as one of the best defensive center fielders in the game (earning a Gold Glove in 2010) and in just 63 plate appearances so far in 2013, he is hitting .267 with five home runs.

Gutierrez’s problem is that he just can’t seem to stay healthy. He is currently on the 15-day DL with a strained hamstring, but he has has dealt with a myriad of health issues over the last two years.

Without him in the lineup, the Mariners have been forced to find a consistent center fielder elsewhere in the form of Michael Saunders or, more recently, Dustin Ackley. Ackley’s batting woes have not helped his case to be part of the Mariners at any position, and it seems likely that he will be sent back down to Triple-A Tacoma in the second half of the season if he doesn’t turn things around at the plate.

Gutierrez, who is owed $7 million by the Mariners for the 2013 season, will only have a place in the Mariners’ outfield if he can get healthy and play well in the second half of this season. The team has an option to buy out his $7.5 million dollar 2014 contract for $500,000, and it is likely they will do just that if he remains injured or doesn’t play well in the coming months.

Alternatively, the Mariners could find a team willing to take Gutierrez in a trade and prevent him from becoming a free agent at the end of this season, thereby getting something in return. Either way, unless he gets healthy and becomes a productive part of the Mariner offense soon, Gutierrez won’t be wearing a Mariner jersey next spring.

Matt Lanka is a Mariners writer for Follow him on Twitter @mattlanka, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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