Aoki coming back
Outfielder Nori Aoki will be recalled Tuesday from Triple-A Tacoma and remain with the Mariners through the end of the season. He should be in uniform for Tuesday’s game against Texas.
The Mariners optioned Aoki to Tacoma on Aug. 26 because they anticipated he would get limited playing time against a projected run of left-handed pitchers. The Mariners faced eight lefties in 10 games since Aoki’s departure.
Aoki, 34, has a .265 average and a .333 on-base percentage this season in 98 big-league games. He batted .316 with a .362 OBP in 31 games after a previous demotion to Tacoma.
It’s uncertain how much Aoki will play since he must now compete with Seth Smith and recently acquired Ben Gamel, who are also left-handed hitters, for playing time in a three-for-two arrangement against right-handed starters.
That uncertainty has financial and career implications for Aoki, who currently has 389 plate appearances. He needs 91 more to trigger a $5.5 million vesting option for next season.
Aoki also is poised to begin triggering performance bonuses. He needs 11 more plate appearances for a $100,000 bonus. Other $100,000 bonuses kick in at 425, 450, 475 and 500 plate appearances.
LeBlanc clears waivers
Lefty Wade LeBlanc cleared waivers and was sent to Tacoma on an outright assignment. He was designated for assignment Aug. 25 when lefty James Paxton returned from the disabled list.
LeBlanc must remain in the minors for at least 10 days unless he replaces a player placed on the disabled list. In short, the Rainiers’ rotation should get a boost as it opens its postseason series Wednesday at El Paso.
The Mariners would also need to return LeBlanc to the 40-man roster to bring him back to the big-league club. Doing so would require a corresponding roster move because the Mariners, as of Monday, had no openings on their roster.
The Mariners acquired LeBlanc, 32, from Toronto on June 22 for a player to be named later or cash. He was 3-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 11 games, including eight starts, prior to being designated for assignment.