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Rosenthal: Long-term Felix deal being discussed

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The Mariners have initiated long-term contract discussions with right-hander Felix Hernandez, but the two sides are far apart, according to a major-league source. Hernandez, 23, is two years away from free agency. He is happy in Seattle, the source said, but willing to continue going year-to-year in arbitration and then seek a CC Sabathia-type contract on the open market. Sabathia signed a seven-year, $161 deal with the Yankees last winter. The average annual value of that contract is $23 million. The Mariners are believed to have offered Hernandez a four-year contract in the $45 million range. Such a deal would cover his final two years of arbitration and first two years of free agency. Hernandez earned $3.8 million last season and finished second in the American League Cy Young Award balloting. His salaries in arbitration could rise to $7 million next season and then $10 million in 2011. Add two free-agent years at $23 million, and his goal in a four-year deal likely would be above $60 million. He also could seek a longer term — say, six years — and a total package of more than $100 million.

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