Seattle Mariners: Mitch Haniger avoids arbitration with new deal

Outfielder Mitch Haniger avoided going to arbitration ahead of Friday’s deadline, by agreeing to term with the Seattle Mariners.

There has been plenty of speculation recently about what the Seattle Mariners will do with Mitch Haniger and where he might end up. However, once place he isn’t headed to is arbitration.

With Friday’s 9 am PT deadline looming, Haniger agreed to term with the Mariners. His deal is apparently for $3.01 million, just above his projected figure of $3 million.

The one-year deal comes in the outfielder’s first year of arbitration eligibility. It also represents a significant pay rise from the $590,100 he earned in 2019.

In reality, the fact Haniger agreed a deal shouldn’t really come as a surprise, with only a couple of arbitration hearings for the M’s in the last two decades. Along these lines, the club also agreed terms with Mallex Smith and Sam Tuivailala ahead of Friday’s deadline, with all three players having two more years before they will become free agents.

Moving forward, Haniger’s deal won’t stop fans wondering if he will still be in Seattle for the start of the regular season? Teams linked to him include the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians.

If the 29-year-old is still with the Mariners on opening day — and general manager Jerry Dipoto has indicated he will be — he is a virtual lock to start. The question will then become if he can return to his All-Star form of 2018?

Last year was an injury-filled campaign for Haniger. He was restricted to 63 games in 2019, due to a ruptured testicle and back issues.

With the type of injuries the Mountain View, California native endured, it’s no wonder his form suffered as a result. This was best reflected in a career-low .220 batting average.

However, there is little doubt that a fit and healthy Haniger can once again perform at a high leavl in 2020. If he does, the Seattle Mariners will benefit as they continue to undergo their major rebuild.

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Other notes:

Smith’s one-year deal is worth $2.35 million, below his projection of $2.7 million. He led the Majors in stolen bases last year, with 46.

Tuivailala will earn $800,000 this coming season. Last year he pitched 23 innings in 23 appearances — including two starts — and recorded an ERA of 2.35.

What’s your take on Haniger agreeing to term with the Seattle Mariners? Do you see him sticking around for a while in the Pacific Northwest, or do you predict he is headed elsewhere sooner than later? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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