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Originally published Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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M's make trade, avoid arbitration with Erik Bedard, Aaron Heilman

Left-hander Erik Bedard and right-handed reliever Aaron Heilman agreed to one-year deals to avoid arbitration with the Mariners. Also, Seattle made a trade with the Red Sox for right-hander David Aardsma.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Capping a busy day in which they signed their last two remaining arbitration-eligible players, pitchers Erik Bedard and Aaron Heilman, the Mariners acquired right-handed pitcher David Aardsma on Tuesday in a trade with the Boston Red Sox.

To get Aardsma, a 27-year-old former first-round draft pick (in 2003 by the Giants), the Mariners sent minor-league lefty Fabian Williamson to the Red Sox.

"Adding David to our roster gives us another quality bullpen arm," Mariners' GM Jack Zduriencik said.

Aardsma appeared in a career-high 47 games last season for the Red Sox, compiling a 4-2 record with a 5.55 earned-run average while averaging 9.06 strikeouts per nine innings (49 in 48-2/3 innings). He had two stints on the disabled list because of a strained right groin.

Aardsma, a product of Rice University, has the distinction of being the first player alphabetically in baseball history, ahead of Hank Aaron.

Williamson, 20, went 4-3 with a 4.10 ERA in 11 starts for Class A Pulaski last season. He was Seattle's 22nd-round draft pick in 2006.

Just like his predecessor at general manager, Zduriencik avoided the arbitration process.

One day after reaching contract agreement with Felix Hernandez, the Mariners on Tuesday signed their two remaining arbitration-eligible players to 2009 pacts.

Left-handed starter Bedard and right-handed reliever Heilman signed one-year deals, the club announced.

During his four-plus seasons as GM, Bill Bavasi never had a player go through the arbitration process, in which a panel decides upon a salary request submitted by the player and the team. The last Mariners player to go through arbitration was pitcher Freddy Garcia before the 2003 season, when he won his $6.875 million salary request. The club had offered $5.9 million.

"It is good to settle all these negotiations and head into spring training focused on working hardand getting prepared," Zduriencik said.

Bedard, who turns 30 on March 5, is eligible for free agency after the 2009 season. He earned $7 million last season. Bedard will earn $7.75 million in 2009. Bedard can make $600,000 in performance bonuses based on innings pitched.

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Heilman signed a one-year deal for $1,625,000. Heilman, acquired last month from the Mets, earned $1.2 million in 2008.

Bedard, acquired from Baltimore in a trade that cost the Mariners Adam Jones, George Sherrill and three minor-league pitchers, had a disappointing, injury-riddled 2008 season. He was 6-4 with a 3.67 ERA in 15 starts, but had two stints on the disabled list.

The most serious was a left shoulder injury that sidelined Bedard from July 5 through the end of the season. He underwent surgery on Sept. 26 to remove a cyst and unhealthy tissue from his shoulder.

"Erik's a very important pitcher for our club in 2009," Zduriencik said in a news release. "All our reports this winter are that his rehabilitation is going very well. We are excited to see a healthy pitcher take the hill this season."

Heilman, 30, was 3-8 with a 5.21 ERA in 78 relief appearances for the Mets. He has expressed a desire to start, but the Mariners might have more need for him in their bullpen.

"Aaron is a very versatile pitcher and is an important part of our pitching staff," Zduriencik said.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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