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Mariners, Furbush avoid potential arbitration hearing

SEATTLE -- Left-handed reliever Charlie Furbush has signed a one-year contract with the Mariners, the club announced Tuesday, as the two parties reached an agreement to avoid any potential dispute over whether he was going to be arbitration-eligible.

The deal is for $750,000, according to Yahoo! Sports. Furbush made $504,000 last season and would have been in line for a small hike from the Mariners under normal circumstances as a pre-arbitration-eligible player.

Furbush finished just shy of "Super 2" contract status in Major League Baseball's service-time calculations this offseason, thus just missing the opportunity to enter the arbitration process a year earlier than normal.

Under MLB's labor agreement, after three years of service time, all players are eligible for arbitration and the ability to ask for more than the minimum salary. Additionally, the top 22 percent of players (in terms of service time) with two-plus years of career MLB time (and with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season) are eligible for arbitration each year as so-called "Super 2s."

Furbush was the first player to miss the cutoff for the 22 percent and thus wasn't slated to be arbitration-eligible. But Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada is considering filing a grievance over a service-time issue that, if he wins, would move him out of Super 2 status and thus open the last spot for Furbush.

The Mariners pre-empted any issue by coming to an agreement with Furbush on a compromise one-year deal that essentially splits the difference of what he likely would have made in arbitration versus his pre-arbitration salary.

Seattle has just two arbitration-eligible players this offseason in outfielder Michael Saunders and first baseman Justin Smoak.

Tejada was the final September callup by the Mets last season, being promoted on Sept. 10, a move that left him one day short of a full three seasons of service time in his MLB career. He is considering a grievance over the timing of that promotion.

Tejada already would be arbitration-eligible this year as a Super 2, but one more day of service time would allow him to become a free agent after the 2016 season instead of waiting until 2017.

Furbush, 27, appeared in team-high 71 games last year, tied for 10th in the American League, while going 2-6 with a 3.74 ERA. He held opponents to a .199 batting average, including .173 against left-handers, and averaged 11.08 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

In three Major League seasons, Furbush has appeared in 147 games -- including 12 starts -- while going 11-18 with a 4.26 ERA. He's recorded 200 strikeouts in 196 2/3 innings.

Furbush was originally selected by the Tigers in the fourth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of LSU and was acquired by the Mariners in a six-player trade on July 30, 2011.

The MLB Players Association and MLB agreed to the compromise contract. Furbush served as the Mariners' player representative with the players' union last year.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
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