Sep 4, 2011, 8:02 PM EDT
Gutierrez ends a disastrous season with a .224/.262/.273 line in 322 at-bats. He missed the first seven weeks with a stomach condition that was eventually diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome. After debuting on May 18, he homered in his sixth game back, but then went the next three-plus months without one. He drove in a total of 19 runs all season.
Regarded by some as the best defensive center fielder in baseball, Gutierrez was an All-Star-caliber performer when he hit .283/.339/.425 with 18 homers and 70 RBI in his first season in Seattle in 2009. However, his OPS has dipped from .764 then to .666 in 2010 and .535 this year. If not for the long-term deal he signed, he’d probably be a candidate to be non-tendered this winter. Instead, he’s guaranteed $5.5 million in 2012 and $7 million in 2013.
An offseason spent working out and regaining strength could make Gutierrez a different player in 2012. The Mariners have no choice but to hope that’s the case. They do have center field alternatives in Casper Wells, Greg Halman and Michael Saunders, but it’s unlikely that any of them will ever be as valuable as Gutierrez was two years ago.
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