The Mariners have avoided salary arbitration with ace right-hander Felix Hernandez, agreeing to a one-year, $3.8 million contract on Monday.
"We are pleased to have Felix signed for 2009 and to avoid the arbitration process," general manager Jack 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."
The 22-year-old Hernandez, who had his contract automatically renewed for $540,000 last season, led the Mariners in starts (31), ERA (3.45), wins (9), innings (200 2/3) and strikeouts (175). He also hit a grand slam off Mets left-hander Johan Santana during an Interleague game played at Shea Stadium.
He finished among the American League leaders in ERA and strikeouts and his 3.01 ERA on the road was the sixth-best in the league. Hernandez's overall ERA was the lowest by a Mariners starter since Jamie Moyer had a 3.27 mark in 2003.
Though he finished his third full season in the rotation with a losing record (9-11), Hernandez pitched much better than his record would indicate. He received the second-lowest run support average in the AL and the Mariners scored two or fewer runs in 17 of his 31 starts, compiling a 2.72 ERA in his 11 no-decisions.
With Hernandez signed, the Mariners have two salary-arbitration cases remaining -- pitchers Erik Bedard and Aaron Heilman, who made $7 million and $1.2 million, respectively, last season. If they remained unsigned through Monday, salary figures will be exchanged with the club on Tuesday.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.