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Felix's reign in Seattle to continue

Reports: Right-hander agrees to five-year deal with Mariners

01/19/10 9:47 AM EST

Felix Hernandez has agreed to a multiyear contract with the Mariners, according to published reports.

ESPN.com and SI.com, citing sources, both reported on Tuesday that the deal is for five years, with ESPN.com adding that it will be worth $80 million.

The deal, initially reported by ESPN.com on Monday, has not been confirmed by the Mariners, and no announcement is forthcoming, according to a club official.

The agreement occurred on the day before clubs and players were to exchange salary figures for arbitration. Hernandez was one of five Mariners eligible for salary arbitration and was expected to seek a $10 million contract -- a hefty raise over the $3.8 million he earned last season, when he posted career bests in virtually every pitching category while going 19-5 with a 2.45 ERA. He finished second to Kansas City's Zack Greinke in the voting for the AL Cy Young Award.

Securing King Felix's services long-term should send a strong message through the American League West -- general manager Jack Zduriencik has pushed the fast-forward button for getting the team back into playoff contention. Though Hernandez would not have been eligible for free agency until after the 2011 season, a new deal will remove a potential distraction.

It also could help persuade former AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee, whose contract is to expire after this season, to stick around a few more years. If the Mariners unseat the Angels in the AL West, Lee probably would be more receptive to signing a long-term deal with Seattle.

Lee, who helped the Phillies reach the World Series, was acquired from the NL champs last month and gives the Mariners one of the best one-two starting punches in the Majors. He is expected to be in Seattle next week for his introduction to the Seattle media.

Hernandez, a five-year veteran at age 23, has a career 58-41 record and 3.45 ERA in 138 career starts, with 810 strikeouts and 287 walks in 905 innings.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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