|Thursday, November 7
Martinez will make $4 million in 2003
The Mariners signed Martinez to a one-year contract Thursday, a day after declining a $10 million option on their veteran designated hitter.
Martinez will make about $4 million next season, plus the $1 million buyout from his previous deal.
''I hardly can believe I've played this long and to have the career I've had in Seattle,'' said Martinez, who made his major league debut with the Mariners in 1987. ''It's been like a dream.''
Martinez, limited by injuries last season, said 2003 will ''most likely'' be his final year. He turns 40 in January.
''I think it's a high percentage. Let's put it that way,'' he said. ''I won't say 100 percent because there's always the possibility that I'll feel so good and have a great year. I want to leave that window open.''
Martinez's agent said earlier in the week the team had asked the two-time AL batting champion to restructure the contract and play next year for less money.
''The way the contract worked out, it's fair to the team and it's fair to me,'' Martinez said. ''That's what was important to me, that I feel comfortable. Whether it's less or more, I feel happy and comfortable with the amount.''
Martinez is a fan favorite in Seattle, something that wasn't overlooked by the front office during negotiations.
Team chairman Howard Lincoln called Martinez one of the few special players who spend their careers with one team, comparing him to Tony Gwynn in San Diego and Robin Yount in Milwaukee.
General manager Pat Gillick described ''several restless nights'' as both sides approached a Wednesday deadline for the Mariners to decide whether to use their $10 million option.
''He is so beloved, all you have do is say his first name and everyone knows who you're talking about,'' Lincoln said.
Signed by the Mariners in 1982, Martinez has hit above .300 10 times in 13 full seasons in Seattle and is a six-time All-Star.
The Mariners were determined to keep Martinez, hoping to avoid saying goodbye to another star. They lost Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez in recent years, and even manager Lou Piniella left for Tampa Bay last month.
''Edgar is such a fan favorite, not just in the Puget Sound area but throughout the Pacific Northwest,'' Lincoln said. ''We just had to put this deal together.''
Martinez spent 11 weeks on the disabled list early last season after rupturing a tendon behind his left knee. He had surgery April 13 but came back strong when he returned to the lineup.
In 97 games, he hit .277 with 15 home runs and 59 RBI. Martinez struggled at the end of the season, hitting .177 (11-for-62) in 19 games after having a .301 batting average on Sept. 8.
Martinez has a career average of .317 with 273 homers and 1,100 RBI. He's likely to get his 2,000th hit early next season.
''To be honest, I've never been motivated by that, other than 3,000 hits,'' Martinez said with a laugh. ''That would be nice.''
Martinez won the AL batting title in 1992 (.343) and 1995 (.356).
He ranks first on the team in games played (1,769), hits (1,973), at-bats (6,230), doubles (466), walks (1,133) and runs scored (1,102).
Martinez began his career as a third baseman, but the Mariners converted him into their designated hitter in 1995. He was selected as the AL's DH of the Year in 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001.