Mariners Avoid Arbitration With League, Vargas, Kelley

It has been a busy day in Mariners land this morning. There was the announcement with Dan Wilson and Randy Johnson being inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame this morning, the following news about three players avoiding arbitration, and of course talk of all the snow that is in the forecast for the Puget Sound region.

The latest bit of news was that closer Brandon League, starting pitcher Jason Vargas and relief pitcher Shawn Kelley all agreed to one-year contracts for the 2012 season, avoiding the arbitration process. What is arbitration you ask? Here is one of the best definitions that we have come across:

A player with less than 6 years of Major League service time is eligible for salary arbitration if he:

  1. is without a contract for the next season, AND
  2. has been tendered a contract offer by his current team by the tender deadline, AND
  3. cannot agree with his current team on a new contract, AND
  4. meets one of the conditions below:
    1. has been on a major league roster or disabled list for at least three years, OR
    2. has at least two years of major league service but less than three, AND is among the top 17 percent for cumulative playing time in the majors in this class of players, AND was on an active major-league roster for at least 86 days in the previous season.

What this basically means, is that the services of League, Vargas and Kelley are secured for the 2012 season. All three pitchers will be key contributors for the Mariners in 2012. More information on the three players is available in the official news release:

MARINERS AGREE TO TERMS WITH BRANDON LEAGUE, SHAWN KELLEY, JASON VARGAS
Mariners agree to one-year contracts on all three players avoiding arbitration.

SEATTLE, Wash. (Jan. 17, 2012) — Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Jack Zduriencik today announced that the club has agreed to terms with right-handed pitchers Brandon League and Shawn Kelley, and left-handed pitcher Jason Vargas on one-year contracts for the 2012 season. Per club policy, terms of the contracts were not disclosed.

By agreeing to terms with the three players, the Mariners have no remaining arbitration-eligible players.

League, 28, ranked 3rd in the American League last season posting 37 saves and was selected to play in his first All-Star Game. He went 1-5 with a 2.79 ERA (19 ER, 61.1 IP) in a team-high 65 appearances. His 37 saves were 4th-most in single-season club history, and his save percentage (88.1%, 37-for-42) was 6th-highest.

In two seasons with the Mariners, League is 10-12 with a 3.14 ERA (49 ER, 140.1 IP) and 43 saves in 135 appearances. His 135 appearances over the last two seasons are tied for 7th-most in the American League.

In eight Major League seasons with the Blue Jays (2004-09) and Mariners (2010-11), League has compiled a 17-22 record with a 3.70 ERA (141 ER, 342.2 IP) in 303 relief appearances. He was acquired from Toronto on Dec. 23, 2009 along with minor league outfielder Johermyn Chavez in exchange for right-handed pitcher Brandon Morrow. The Blue Jays originally selected him in the 2nd round (59th overall) out of Hawai’i’s St. Louis High School in 2001.

Vargas, 28, went 10-13 with a 4.25 ERA (95 ER, 201.0 IP) in 32 starts in 2011. The lefty set career highs in strikeouts (131), wins (10), innings (201.0) and starts (32). He ranked tied for 3rd in the AL with three shutouts and was tied for 4th with 4 complete games.

In three seasons with the Mariners, Vargas is 22-31 with a 4.19 ERA (226 ER, 485.1 IP) in 86 appearances (77 starts). He was acquired from the New York Mets as part of a 12-player trade also involving the Cleveland Indians on Dec. 10, 2008. He was originally selected by the Florida Marlins in the 2nd round (68th overall) in the 2004 June draft out of Long Beach State University.

Kelley, 27, saw limited action last season after coming back from partial Tommy John surgery performed on Sept. 1, 2010. In 10 Major League games, Kelley did not allow a run and scattered 7 hits in 12.2 innings. In 15 minor league appearances with AA Jackson and AAA Tacoma, Kelley went 1-1 with a 1.53 ERA (3 ER, 17.2 IP).

Originally selected in the 13th round of the 2006 June draft, Kelley made his Major League debut in 2009. In three seasons with the Mariners he has appeared in 73 games (all in relief), recording an 8-5 record with a 3.66 ERA (34 ER, 83.2 IP).

Brandon League, Jason Vargas and Shawn Kelley

- JE

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