Sports Outside the Beltway

Reitsma and Seattle Agree on Deal

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Former Atlanta Braves closer Chris Reitsma agreed Friday to a $2.05 million, one-year contract with Seattle to become the Mariners’ setup reliever.

Reitsma gets $1.35 million this year and can earn additional bonuses based on appearances and games finished. Seattle has a $2.7 million option for 2008 with a $700,000 buyout.

He became a free agent last month when the Braves failed to offer a 2007 contract. He made $2.75 million in 2006. The right-hander began last season as the Braves’ closer but lost his job after blowing four of 12 chances. He was 1-2 with an 8.68 ERA in 27 starts before season-ending surgery on his pitching elbow on July 18.

Reitsma, who made $2.75 million last year, will assume the Mariners’ setup role for closer J.J. Putz. Seattle traded 2006 setup man Rafael Soriano to the Braves for starting pitcher Horacio Ramirez earlier this offseason.

Mark Lowe, a rookie surprise in 2006 who was on track to be Putz’s setup man in ’07, had arm surgery in the fall. The Mariners don’t know when Lowe will return.

“Chris is a proven, quality major league pitcher and his ability and track record show that he can pitch at the end of games,” Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said. “When we made our trades earlier this winter, we were confident that setup-quality relief would be available to restock our bullpen.”

Reitsma, who turned 29 last week, has a career record of 32-44 with 37 saves and a 4.58 ERA in 312 appearances, including 53 starts. He pitched for Cincinnati in 2001-03 before joining Atlanta in ’04.

“Chris is a kid who wants to pitch every day,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said. “In the bullpen, one of the most valuable qualities a pitcher can have is consistency, both in terms of being available and in the results he provides. Chris gives us the consistency we need as we bridge the gap from our starters to J.J.”

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

Nothing Earth-shattering about this deal. Nothing to get excited about.

Reitsma has good upside, especially now that he won’t have the pressure of closing, or the pressure of closing on a winning team at that.

Cheap, almost risk-free signing by Seattle.

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