Felix heads Mariners to file for arbitration

Felix heads Mariners to file for arbitration

Ace right-hander Felix Hernandez headed the list of five Mariners who filed for salary arbitration on Friday.

Hernandez, right-handed closer David Aardsma, recently acquired first baseman Casey Kotchman and relief pitchers Brandon League and Mark Lowe were among the 128 salary arbitration-eligible players that filed, according to the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Hernandez will be one of the most-watched cases this year. He is coming off a breakout season, posting a 19-5 record with a 2.46 ERA, and is expected to seek a contract worth at least $10 million. He made $3.8 million in 2009 in his first year of salary arbitration eligibility.

Hernandez earned $540,000 in 2008.

Aardsma, acquired from the Red Sox for a Minor League pitcher, became the Mariners' closer in early May and responded with 38 saves in 42 save chances. His timing could not have been much better, as he's eligible for salary arbitration for the first time in his career.

Lowe also is eligible for the first time and will receive a substantial raise. He made $418,000 last season and provided solid late-inning relief work as Aardma's premier setup man.

Lowe set career highs in appearances (75), innings pitched (80) and strikeouts (69). His 26 "holds" ranked fourth in the American League.

The Mariners inherited the contract status of both Kotchman -- acquired in a trade with the Red Sox for utility player Bill Hall, a Minor League player to be named and cash -- and League, who came to Seattle from Toronto for right-handed pitcher Brandon Morrow.

Kotchman made $2.228 million last season while League made $640,000.

The players and club officials will exchange salary figures on Tuesday, and hearings will later be set for next month. If agreements can't be reached before a hearing begins, a panel of arbitrators will decide which of the two salary figures will be paid in 2010.

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