Mariners, first baseman Justin Smoak agree to new contract

Staff writerFebruary 15, 2014 

Athletics Mariners Baseball

Seattle Mariners' Justin Smoak avoided an arbitration hearing Saturday by reaching agreement with the Mariners on a one-year deal that includes a club option for 2015.

JOHN FROSCHAUER — ASSOCIATED PRESS

— Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak avoided a looming arbitration hearing by reaching agreement Saturday with Seattle on a one-year deal that includes a club vesting option for 2015.

Smoak, 27, will make $2,637,500 this season. His 2015 option for $3.65 million will vest if he gets 525 plate appearances, but the Mariners have a $150,000 buyout.

His 2014 salary is the midpoint between what Smoak sought ($3.25 million) and what the Mariners offered ($2,025,000).

The agreement extended the club’s streak of not engaging in an arbitration hearing since 2003 with pitcher Freddy Garcia.

The Mariners previously reached agreement with two other arbitration-eligible players: outfielder Michael Saunders and first baseman/outfielder Logan Morrison.

Smoak batted .238 last season with a career-high 20 home runs and 50 RBIs in 131 games. He faces increased competition this spring for playing time after the offseason acquisitions of Corey Hart and Morrison.

The Mariners acquired the switch-hitting Smoak from the Texas Rangers in a July 9, 2010, trade. In that deal, Seattle also got infielder Matt Lawson and pitchers Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke for pitchers Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe.

3-LEFTY PREFERENCE

Any left-handed relievers in the Mariners’ camp could consider this sentiment to be a help-wanted posting: Manager Lloyd McClendon would like to have three of you on his 25-player roster.

“I can’t say I’m going to have three,” McClendon cautioned. “In a perfect world, I’d like to have three. And we’ve got some viable candidates, guys who have good arms.”

McClendon previously indicated Charlie Furbush as a virtual lock for a spot after compiling a 3.74 earned-run average last season in 71 games.

Other lefty candidates include Lucas Luetge, Joe Beimel, Randy Wolf and Bobby LaFromboise.

CAMP COUNT

Reliever Ramon Ramirez remains absent from camp because of visa issues in departing from the Dominican Republic. Catcher Manny Pina participated Saturday in his first workout after his delayed arrival from Venezuela.

Infielders and outfielders aren’t required to report until Monday, but 20 of the 25 players already are in camp.

The exceptions: second baseman Robinson Cano, infielder Carlos Triunfel and outfielders Abraham Almonte, Endy Chavez and Burt Reynolds.

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