SEATTLE (AP) -All-Star second baseman Jose Lopez and the Seattle Mariners agreed Wednesday to a four-year contract with a club option for 2011.
The Mariners and Lopez's agent, Martin Arburua, had talked about a new deal back in spring training. Lopez's previous contract called for him to earn $420,000 this season.
``I'm grateful to the team because they didn't have to extend my contract at this time. (General manager) Bill Bavasi and the staff have been great to me,'' Lopez said. ``I really like this organization. The city and the fans are great. I hope to be here for many years to come.''
The deal comes two weeks after Seattle signed 25-year-old shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt to a $13.75 million, four-year contract. That means the Mariners have their young double-play combination under contract through at least 2010.
The Mariners signed Lopez out of Venezuela in 2000, when he was 16. He made his major league debut midway through the 2004 season and batted .282 with 10 home runs last year, his first full season in the majors. The year began with Seattle trying out veteran Fernando Vina to possibly take Lopez's job and ended with Lopez leading all AL second basemen with 79 RBIs, eight triples and 148 starts.
Eight of his 10 home runs came in the first two months of the season, leading to his selection to the All-Star game. Lopez is proud enough of that accomplishment that he still often wears a workout shirt with the logo from last July's showcase in Pittsburgh underneath his uniform.
``We project Jose to develop into a really special middle infielder,'' Bavasi said. ``He appeared in the All-Star game in his first full season, and is still improving both offensively and defensively. ... We feel like we are solid in the middle infield for the next several years.''
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