BY John Hickey 11:51AM 12/09/2010

M’s agree with Olivo and add Rule 5 pitcher

With DH Jack Cust unofficially in the fold, Jose Flores of the Indians’ organization is the Mariners’ only official addition at the winter meetings, although the club has reportedly agreed to a deal with catcher Miguel Olivo.

Catcher Miguel Olivo, a former Mariner (2004-05), might soon rejoin the ballclub

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Seattle Mariners prepared to leave baseball’s Winter Meetings Thursday with only having made one move – officially — and two unofficially.

The club plucked Class-A right-handed pitcher Jose Flores from the Cleveland organization in the Rule 5 draft. Rule 5 selections cost $50,000, and they either have to remain on the big league roster all year or they have to be offered back to the original club at $25,000.

Unofficially the club has signed DH/outfielder Jack Cust, a deal that should be announced Friday in Seattle, and has repotedly agreed to terms on a two-year deal with catcher Miguel Olivo, who played with the team for parts of the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Seattle needs a veteran catcher who can both play regularly and mentor Adam Moore, who will be in his second year in 2011.

Olivo, who hit a career-high .269 in 394 at-bats with the Colorado Rockies in 2010, adding 14 homers and 58 RBIs, was spooked by the difficulty of hitting home runs in Safeco Field during his first run with the Mariners, but club officials are optimistic that’s behind him.

“He’s the guy they really want,’’ a source told Sportspress Northwest.

Asked if he’d offered a contract to any free agent catcher – Gregg Zaun is also on the short list – at the conclusion of the Rule 5 draft, general manager Jack Zduriencik took a moment to collect his thoughts.

“We’ve had in-depth dialogue,’’ Zduriencik said.

The Mariners have only made one firm offer to any free agent, reaching agreement with Cust Wednesday. Cust confirmed the deal was done, but the Mariners won’t be announcing anything officially until Friday.

As for Flores, he’s a Venezuelan who throws 95 mph and has decent control. The number of Class-A Rule 5 players successfully to make the jump to the Major Leagues is small.

“Not too many kids have made this leap,’’ Zduriencik said. “It’s a good challenge, for him and a $25,000 gamble for us. He’s got a good arm and he’s a strike thrower who can reach 95. It’s worth it.’’

Seattle manager Eric Wedge, who was in Cleveland through the 2009 season, knows Flores a bit.

“He’s a young pitcher with a great arm,’’ Wedge said. “I like his stuff. And I like the competition having a Rule 5 player on the roster brings. It will push everybody.’’

Twitter: @JHickey3


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