Mariners sign first-round pick Danny Hultzen
Hultzen received a five-year major-league deal that will guarantee him $8.5 million. It's the fifth-largest guarantee in draft history, pending the results of this year's signings. Hultzen received a $6.35 million signing bonus, and the maximum value of the deal is $10.6 million.
Seattle Times reporter
At the end of a long, sometimes agonizing day of negotiations on Monday, Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara received a text message from Danny Hultzen.
"Thank you! Can't wait to get started!" Hultzen wrote.
Hultzen, the Mariners' No. 1 draft choice in June, had just signed a five-year major-league deal that will guarantee him $8.5 million. According to sources, Hultzen received a $6.35 million signing bonus, and the maximum value of the deal is $10.6 million. The guarantee is the fifth-largest in draft history.
As expected, the negotiations with Hultzen, a left-hander pitcher from the University of Virginia, went right down to the 9 p.m. Pacific deadline for teams to get their draft picks signed or else lose their rights.
"At the end, I think he's very excited about becoming a Seattle Mariner, and we are as well," general manager Jack Zduriencik said.
The Mariners also signed their second-round pick, Clemson shortstop Brad Miller. He received a $750,000 bonus according to Baseball America. But the Mariners missed out on their third-rounder, first baseman Kevin Cron, a high-school slugger from Arizona. Cron will instead attend Texas Christian University. The Mariners will receive a compensation pick between the third and fourth rounds in next year's draft.
"We made a very legitimate offer," Zduriencik said of Cron. "We couldn't get an agreement in place tonight. Tom worked very, very hard on it. At the end, you draw the line. We went pretty deep. It was a pretty substantial offer, but we just weren't able to come to terms."
Also signing Monday were right-handed pitcher Carson Smith (eighth round) and shortstop Cavan Cohoes (ninth round).
If the Mariners hadn't signed Hultzen, they would have received the third overall pick in next year's draft as compensation. However, the ballclub could ill afford to let the No. 2 pick in a draft touted as one of the best in years walk away.
Just as they did with Dustin Ackley, the No. 2 overall pick in 2009, the Mariners used virtually every minute of their negotiating time. Hultzen was said to be seeking a four-year, $13 million contract to forgo his senior year in college.
"I think the reason this deal was able to get done is that there continued to be, until the end, a lot of mutual respect from the Mariners' organization to the Hultzen family, and that was reciprocated," said Hultzen's adviser, Brodie Van Wagenen.
"In any deal, you have to go past the point of comfortability, and the Mariner and Hultzens were able to do it. Both sides were able to make extreme compromises to get it done."
In order to make room for Hultzen on its 40-man roster, Seattle released veteran relief pitcher Chris Ray, currently on the disabled list.
Hultzen will go to major-league spring training with the Mariners next year, and Zduriencik said, "Hey, we'll give Danny a shot right off the bat to see what he can do, if he can make the big-league club or not."
There had been speculation that Hultzen wanted to be allowed to attend the fall quarter at the Virginia, but Van Wagenen said, "The final deal got done because both sides were motivated to have Danny compete for a big-league job next spring. He's going to commit to playing baseball in the fall and really do everything he can to help the Mariner organization right away."
Asked if he ever feared that the Mariners might lose Hultzen, McNamara said, "I spent Friday with him, and I asked him if he wanted to be a Seattle Mariner. He said he did. Leave it at that."
Hultzen was in Seattle to undergo a physical examination. The Mariners were noncommittal on where Hultzen will start his professional career, but said Miller will go to their Class A team in Clinton, Iowa.
As a junior at Virginia, Hultzen helped the Cavaliers reach the College World Series with a 12-3 record and 1.37 earned-run average in 18 starts. Hultzen, 21, struck out 165 and walked 23 in 118 innings, allowing 76 hits. Opponents hit just .184 off Hultzen.
In his three seasons at Virginia, Hultzen was 32-5 with a 2.08 ERA, striking out 395 in 320 innings. He was named Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year his final two seasons and was the first three-time All-American in Virginia baseball history.
Miller, the 62nd overall pick in the draft, was the ACC Player of the Year after leading the conference with a .395 batting average and .498 on-base percentage. He hit five homers and drove in 50 runs.
Cron, out of Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, established himself as one of the greatest sluggers in Arizona prep history. The 6-foot-5, 245-pounder, a right-handed hitter, set state records for most homers in a season (27) and career (59) en route to being named Arizona's Gatorade Player of the Year. He hit .560 as a senior (61 for 109) with 11 doubles to go with his 27 homers and 65 RBI to lead Mountain Pointe to the Class 5A Division 1 state championship.
The first Mariners signing to emerge Monday was Smith, who was 9-3 with a 1.99 ERA in 113-1/3 innings this year for Texas State, striking out 129.
Cohoes, who attended Patch High School in Stuttgart, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, was at Safeco Field working out on Friday. Patch High School is an American Department of Defense Education Activity School. He'll report to the Mariners' rookie affiliate in the Arizona League.
"He's an interesting kid," Zduriencik said. "He's really athletic, with great quickness and a good throwing arm."
The Mariners signed 43 of the 51 players they selected in the draft. Besides Cron, they did not sign right-handed pitcher Tanner Chleborad (24th round), right-handed pitcher Keone Kela (29th round), left-handed pitcher Ryan Hawthorne (32nd round), shortstop Taylor Smith-Brennan (34th round), right-handed pitcher Jeremy Null (37th round), first baseman Andrew Grifol (49th round) and catcher Estaban Tresgallo (50th round).
The high picks already in the fold by Monday included right-handed pitcher Carter Capps (third round supplemental), catcher John Hicks (fourth round), catcher Tyler Marlette (fifth round), outfielder James Zamarripa (sixth round) and third baseman Steven Proscia (seventh round).
Marlette was at Safeco Field on Monday working out.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or email@example.com
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