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Mariners strike two-year deal with Ryan

Mariners strike two-year deal with Ryan

Mariners strike two-year deal with Ryan
SEATTLE -- Brendan Ryan, acquired last month by the Mariners in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals, signed a two-year contract Friday to avoid salary arbitration.

The Mariners added Ryan to their infield mix on Dec. 12 in a deal for Minor League pitcher Maikel Cleto. General manager Jack Zduriencik expects him to compete for a starting job at second base during Spring Training, having now told Chone Figgins he'll be moving back to third.

No terms of the deal were announced by the Mariners, but MLB.com has learned that Ryan will earn a base salary of $1 million in the upcoming season and $1.75 million in 2012, plus a potential $400,000 this year in playing-time incentives and $750,000 in potential incentives in '12.

The deal was initially reported as done by The Associated Press on Tuesday, but the two sides were still working out some issues and didn't sign off on the agreement until Friday.

Zduriencik said he's not locking Ryan into any particular position battle at this point, nor has he ruled out the possibility of rookie Dustin Ackley winning the second-base job in Spring Training.

What he does know is that the Mariners have increased depth with Ryan capable of playing second until Ackley is ready or competing with Jack Wilson at shortstop.

"Jack's a very good shortstop. We know that," Zduriencik said. "That's why we traded for him. And Brendan was one of the top [defensive] shortstops in the National League last year. We'll roll into Spring Training and see where the pieces fall."

As for Ackley?

"I'm going to be open-minded," said Zduriencik. "I wouldn't etch anything in stone this time of year. I'm anxious to see where guys are when we get to spring. And a lot can happen from now 'til then. To me, it's all about letting the best players play and giving them all an equal opportunity.

"Dustin had a nice year last year. He did a lot of good things and then put an accent on it in the Arizona Fall League. He's a young kid with a lot to prove yet, but we're not shutting the door on him [this spring.]"

Ryan fits into that mix as well, and the Mariners showed some commitment by agreeing to a two-year deal. This was the first year of arbitration eligibility for the former Lewis-Clark State standout who won't become a free agent until 2014. The deal thus buys out his next two years of arbitration.

"I think it worked out good," Zduriencik said. "We avoided arbitration and move forward with him being part of our future."

The Mariners have also moved forward with Figgins' shift to third base. Zduriencik said he talked with the veteran recently about moving back to the position he manned for the most part with the Angels, thus filling the opening created by Jose Lopez's trade to Colorado.

"He's fine with whatever is best for the team," the GM said.

Ryan's signing leaves pitchers David Aardsma, Brandon League and Jason Vargas as the only unsigned Mariners in the arbitration process. Players can file for arbitration through Jan. 15, with both sides then exchanging contract numbers on Jan. 18. If no agreement is reached in the interim, arbitration hearings are held from Feb. 1-18.

Aardsma underwent surgery on a torn labrum in his hip on Monday and Zduriencik said doctors now estimate he might not be ready to pitch in games until several weeks into the regular season.

"There was a little more damage than they thought, but everyone reacts differently so we'll have to see," Zduriencik said.

Zduriencik said left fielder Michael Saunders, whose Venezuelan Winter League stint was cut short when he bruised his throwing arm in a collision, was progressing well in Arizona and should be 100 percent by the start of camp.

The Mariners open Spring Training with pitchers and catchers reporting on Feb. 13. Position players are due in Peoria on Feb. 18.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohns1 as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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