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Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

January 17, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Randy Johnson, Dan Wilson to be inducted into Mariners Hall of Fame; Mariners avoid arbitration

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Update 11:48 p.m.: The Mariners just made it official, announcing that Jason Vargas, Brandon League and Shawn Kelley have avoided arbitration by signing one-year contracts.

Word is just in, via a tweet from his agency, CAA Sports, that pitcher Jason Vargas avoided arbitration today by reaching agreement on a one-year contract for $4.85 million. Reliever Brandon League also avoided arbitration by reaching agreement on a one-year contract for $5 million (per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports), and now there’s word, via MLB.com’s Greg Johns, that the Mariners’ third arbitration-eligible player, Shawn Kelley , has also reached agreement for $600,000, plus $50,000 in possible incentives. Kelley confirmed via twitter that he had signed: “Got my deal done, ready for baseball now.”

Today is the day that teams exchange salary figures, so deals are flying fast and furious around the majors, as occurs every year. The Mariners have not had a player go to an arbitration hearing since Freddy Garcia before the 2003 season, when he won his $6.875 million salary request. The club had offered $5.9 million.

Also, don’t expect any official announcement today on the Yankees-Mariners trade. Jesus Montero is having travel issues getting from Venezuela to Seattle so he can take his physical.

Here is another Mariners’ winter league update compiled by Kelly Munro.

It’s only fitting that the most celebrated battery in Mariners’ history will join the team’s Hall of Fame in tandem. The ballclub announced today that Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson will be inducted at Safeco Field during a ceremony on Saturday, July 28, prior to the Mariners’ game with the Kansas City Royals.

They become the fifth and sixth members of the Mariners Hall of Fame, joining Alvin Davis (inducted in 1997), Dave Niehaus (2000), Jay Buhner (2004) and Edgar Martinez (2007). And to pre-empt your next question, Ken Griffey Jr. is not yet eligible. The club’s guidelines for the Hall stipulate that the player has “ceased to be active in the major leagues for at least two seasons preceding the selection.” Since Griffey retired in the middle of the 2010 season, he’ll be eligible in 2013.

Johnson played 22 years in the majors for six different teams, but it was with Seattle that his raw but erratic talent was honed into super-stardom. Arriving in a 1989 trade with the Expos that cost the ballclub star pitcher Mark Langston, Johnson’s breakout season came in 1993, when he went 19-8 with a 3.24 ERA and the first of his six 300-plus strikeout seasons.

But the “Big Unit” became a legend in 1995, when the Mariners came from 13 1/2 games behind the Angels to win the AL West. Not only did Johnson win the first of his five Cy Young Awards that season. but he bested Langston — by then with the Angels — in a one-game playoff for the division title. Johnson pitched a three-hit complete game, striking out 12, as the M’s won 9-1. He was also the winning pitcher in the legendary Game 5 of the division series against the Yankees, coming out of the bullpen on one day’s rest to work three innings, giving up one run and striking out six. He was on the hook for a loss that day, however, until Martinez’s two-run double in the bottom of the 11th lifted the Mariners, and Johnson, to victory.

Wilson was Johnson’s catcher throughout his tenure in Seattle (which ended with a trade to Houston in July of 1998). He played more games as a catcher than any player in Mariners history (1,237) and is ranked among the top 10 in most offensive categories, including:

Games played (1,251, fifth)

Hits (1,071, sixth)

Extra base hits (308, 9th)

Total bases (1,568, 8th)

Doubles (207, 6th)

RBI (508, 9th)

At-bats (4,085, 7th)

He was an All-Star in 1996, and ended his career with a .995 fielding percentage, at the time the highet for any catcher in American League history, and the sixth-highest in MLB history. He has since been tied in the AL by Joe Mauer and A.J. Pierzynski.

(Photo by Associated Press)

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