Mariners, Michael Saunders avoid arbitration

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Michael Saunders and the Mariners have avoided arbitration with a one-year contract. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times says the deal is worth $2.3 million for the 27-year-old outfielder’s first season of arbitration eligibility.

Saunders hit .236 with 12 homers and a .720 OPS in 132 games for the Mariners last season, which doesn’t look like much but was actually above-average production considering the ballpark he called home. He had similar numbers in 2012, so this season will be a crucial one for Saunders in Seattle with another raise due in 2015.

Félix Hernández to rejoin Mariners’ rotation for final start of 2018

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Mariners starter Félix Hernández will come off of the disabled list to make his final start of 2018 on Wednesday against the Athletics, MLB.com’s Greg Johns reports. Hernández has been on the disabled list since September 8 with a right hamstring strain.

Hernández, 32, has endured the worst season of his 14-year career. He’s 8-13 with a 5.46 ERA and a 121/57 K/BB ratio over 151 2/3 innings. Hernández wants the opportunity to finish 2018 on a good note. He said, “I feel good. No problems. It’s 100 percent. I just want to finish strong and show them I can still pitch. It wasn’t a big injury. They just wanted to give me some rest.”

Hernández is under contract for one more year at $27 million. He has been the face of the franchise for the last decade, but if he doesn’t show he’s capable of beating major league hitters by the end of spring training next year, the Mariners may not be able to afford to give him a spot in the starting rotation. Despite a second-half slide, the Mariners were competitive in the AL West this year, entering the All-Star break 58-39, five games out of first place. With some roster fine-tuning, the Mariners could give the Astros and Athletics a run for their money. Hernández’s involvement with that effort remains to be seen.