The Mariners avoided arbitration with staff ace Felix Hernandez by signing the 22-year-old to a one-year, $3.8 million contract.
That's stage one of their effort to secure him for a longer stretch - but an important step, none-the-less.
Going all the way to arbitration with Felix would have been disastrous, and general manager Jack Zduriencik knew it.
"We are pleased to have Felix signed for 2009 and to avoid the arbitration process," Zduriencik said. "It was important to the club to get this done quickly and fairly to avoid any distraction as we prepare for the season."
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It's quite a raise for Hernandez - about six times what he was paid last year.
Now, all Hernandez has to do is earn it.
To do so, all he'll have to do is build on his 2008 season, when he pit`hed 200 innings for the first time in his career, had an earned run average of 3.45 and won nine games.
Considered one of the best young pitchers in baseball, Hernandez cannot be a free agent until after the 2011 season, giving Zduriencik and the Mariners time to work on a multi-year contract.
For now, they've taken arbitration out of the picture for 2009.