Seattle Mariners catcher Henry Blanco has declined an outright assignment and has elected to become a free agent, according to the Seattle Times.
Blanco clubbed a pair of grand slams this season at age 41, putting what could be the finishing touches on his big league career. In 16 seasons, Blanco played for 11 different organizations. He was known for his defensive skills and managed to stay at the Major League level consistently, despite being just a career .230 hitter.
The move was made to free up a roster spot so the Mariners could add Class AA outfielder Travis Witherspoon, claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim earlier this week.
Witherspoon, 24, spent last season in Double-A with the Angels, where he played all three outfield spots and hit .214 with 11 homers, 18 doubles, three triples and stole 30 bases in 129 games. He has 140 steals in 173 attempts as a minor leaguer, with 110 combined steals the last three seasons.
Blanco could look to catch on with a team for 2014 or he may elect to retire, given his age and the fact that his lone position, catcher, has intense physical demands. He helped Seattle pitching learn the ropes this season, but the staff complied an earned run average of 4.31, which ranked 26th out of 30 big league teams.