Aardsma went from $419,000 in 2009 to $2.75 million in 2010.
"It worked out well," Aardsma said. "I think we’re all very happy. We are all happy that we got the deal done and now we can worry about the season."
It also worked out fast. And arbitration didn't seem like a possibility.
"I don’t think anybody really, truly wants go to arbitration," he said. "If you have to you have to have, but it’s one thing we’re happy we didn’t have to do that."
Still, Aardsma knew he was due a pretty substantial raise after a season in which he was fourth in the AL in saves, while setting career-highs in innings pitched (71 1/3), appearances (73) and strikeouts (80)
"When you sit down and really figure out the numbers, it is something you expect," he said.
But it's more than the money that has Aardsma pleased. He has a role and a team. For the better part of his career, the former first-round draft pick was somewhat of a baseball vagabond. He'd played for four different organizations his first five seasons.
But that all changed when the Mariners traded lefty Fabian Williamson to the Red Sox for Aardsma last offseason. Did the Mariners know they were getting their future closer and 38 saves in 2009? No. But they knew they were getting a power arm that showed hints of dominance in 2008 with the Sox before a groin injury derailed his season.
Aardsma ended up being one of the bigger surprises on a 2009 Mariners team full of them. It's a long ways from being designated for assignment by the Red Sox, being acquired by Seattle, coming to a new team without a role and eventually becoming one of the best closers in the AL in 2009.
It was certainly a meandering path.
"You know it’s always in the back of your mind that it could happen," he said of his success. "That’s really what made this season separate from anything. I didn’t worry about that. I didn’t worry about all those things. I just worried about one pitch at a time, and not even worry about what the results would be – just worry about the process to get to those results."
And now he comes into 2010 as the M's closer. It's his job. He earned it.
"I’m not going to let it change anything," he said. "I’m going to make sure I go out there and look at the exact same way I have. Just do it and don’t change anything, what’s the point of changing anything."
Aardsma was also quite pleased about the news of the Felix Hernandez extension. He didn't mind having his new contract overshadowed by it.
"It shows a commitment from everybody, from all sides," he said of Hernandez's extension. "They all want him to come back. It’s good for the city, its good for him, its good for everybody involved. It showed that he wanted this deal and they wanted this deal done. They wanted him here and they didn’t want there to be any questions on whether he was going to be here in a couple of years or not. It definitely gives everyone hope and excitement for the next few years."
Aardsma has followed all of the offseason transactions closely. There is a sense of belonging and ownership with the Mariners.
"I like following it," he said. "I like paying attention. I like knowing what’s going on with my team. I’ve obviously been more involved with this team more than any other team I’ve been with. I want to make sure that I know what’s going on, who’s coming, who’s not going to be there and try and create communications with everybody and make sure we all know what’s going on."
The more Aardsma talked about the team and baseball, the more his excitement level seemed to grow. When asked about spring training, he said: "I can't wait. I really can't wait for it get here. Let's get out on the field and play."