AP source: Kotchman appears headed to Seattle

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SEATTLE (AP) — The Red Sox and Mariners are working on a trade that would send first baseman Casey Kotchman from Boston to Seattle, according to a person familiar with the talks.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the trade was perhaps a couple of days from being finalized.

The teams are still deciding which player or players the Mariners would send to Boston. It is believed none would be major league starters. first reported the proposed deal.

Boston has an excess of veteran corner infielders. The Red Sox agreed Tuesday on a one-year contract with former Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre. They also had worked out a trade to send third baseman Mike Lowell to Texas for catcher Max Ramirez, but that was derailed last month when an examination showed Lowell had an injured thumb. He had surgery on Dec. 30 and is expected to be ready for spring training.

The 26-year-old Kotchman, a .269 career hitter who has never hit more than 14 home runs in a season and is known for defense, joined Boston on July 31 in a trade with Atlanta. He played in 39 games with the Red Sox.

Selected 13th overall in the 2001 amateur draft, Kotchman spent his first 4½ seasons with the Angels and has played in 520 games over six major league seasons.

The proposed deal suggests Seattle won’t bring back slugging first baseman Russell Branyan. The Mariners fear the free agent might not be completely healed from a disk issue in his back from late last season and may not be worthy of the multiyear contract he wants.

The person familiar with the trade talks also told the AP that the Mariners are likely to announce in the coming days a contract extension with center fielder Franklin Gutierrez.

Gutierrez’s agent, Wil Polidor, did not immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday evening.

Polidor told the four-year deal worth in excess of $20.5 million, with an option for a fifth season, is “90 percent done” and that “we are just waiting on Seattle.”

The Mariners acquired the 26-year-old Gutierrez from Cleveland in December 2008 as part of the three-team trade that sent former closer J.J. Putz to the New York Mets.

Gutierrez, who played his first four major league seasons for the Indians, then had his best year with Seattle. He set career highs with a .283 batting average, 18 home runs and 70 RBIs — and he wowed his new team with far-ranging defense and a constant stream of highlight-worthy plays.

Next to perennial Gold Glove right fielder Ichiro Suzuki, the smooth Gutierrez gives the Mariners one of baseball’s best outfield defenses.

Signing him to a multiyear deal and acquiring Kotchman, who is less of a power hitter but is eight years younger and a better defender at first base than Branyan, would fit second-year general manager Jack Zduriencik’s plan of rebuilding the rising Mariners through youth, defense and pitching.