SEATTLE (AP) -The Seattle Mariners and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt agreed Wednesday to a multimillion-dollar, three-year contract extension.
Exact terms were not immediately known, but it will be a substantial raise from the $400,000 Betancourt is making this season.
The 25-year-old who fled Cuba in December 2003 in a smuggler’s motor boat was already signed to through 2008. Wednesday’s deal includes a club option for 2012, the first year Betancourt can become eligible for free agency.
“Yuni is a player who projects to be a premium player at what is always a premium position,” Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said.
Betancourt said he was “surprised at how fast this came together.”
“But this is where I wanted to be, so there was no reason to wait any longer,” he said.
Especially not after Betancourt hit a two-run, tie-breaking home run in the seventh inning of Seattle’s 8-4 win over Oakland on Tuesday night. It was just his 10th home run in 219 career games.
Betancourt said he spent his offseason with a personal trainer “a little more” than usual. The result is a noticeable increase in upper-body bulk, though Betancourt – a bottom-of-the-order hitter known more for slick defense – said he did not intend to add power to his game.
“I feel I am more a contact hitter. Doubles power,” he said through an interpreter while smiling.
He planned to leave the team immediately after its game against the Athletics on Wednesday night. He was due in Miami Thursday to testify before a grand jury hearing a 53-count indictment against agent Gustavo “Gus” Dominguez and five other defendants. Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said the team expects Betancourt to rejoin his team in time for Friday’s game at Cleveland, but there is a chance he will miss the game if he needs to testify on a second day.
“We won’t know until Friday, game time,” Hargrove said.
ril 2004 to play with the Mariners, the documents say.
Dominguez told Major League Baseball officials that both players had previously fled Cuba for Mexico, where they had purportedly established residence and obtained Mexican passports.
Betancourt, who maintains a home in Boca Raton, Fla., hasn’t been charged in the smuggling case.
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