The Mariners finalized the signing of center fielder Franklin Gutierrez to a four-year, $20.5MM deal with a fifth-year club option today. The contract reflects a growing commitment to run-prevention around the league and specifically in Seattle. GM Jack Zduriencik, who signed defensive wizard Chone Figgins earlier in the offseason, said Gutierrez was "a huge part" of the Mariners' league-leading ERA last year.
Gutierrez is arbitration-eligible for the first time, so the deal buys out all three arb years and at least one free agent year. Though it was signed in March of '06, it seems that Grady Sizemore's contract might have been a comparable. Sizemore received $20.7MM for the same four-year slice of his career. On a deal signed in February of '08, Curtis Granderson will earn $27.25MM for that portion of his career.
Gutierrez, 27 in February, hit .283/.339/.425 in 629 plate appearances for the Ms after coming over from Cleveland in a December '08 trade. The real story is his defense, as the Mariners employed him as a full-time center fielder and were rewarded with a 27.1 UZR/150. (the best mark in baseball for any position among those with 1,000 innings).
Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.