Hasegawa agrees to $6.3 million contract, no arbitration offer to Cameron

Updated: December 8, 2003, 12:34 AM ET

SEATTLE -- After an All-Star effort last season, Shiggy is returning to the Seattle Mariners. Cammie is not.

The Mariners agreed to a $6.3 million, two-year contract with reliever Shigetoshi Hasegawa on Sunday night, locking up last season's star performer from the bullpen.

The Mariners, though, faced tough choices about their other free agents. They decided not to offer salary arbitration to center fielder Mike Cameron, who won his second Gold Glove last season, and lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes.

The move essentially releases both players.

General manager Bill Bavasi said Randy Winn, who played in left field last season, will move to center. Raul Ibanez, a free agent who joined the Mariners last month, will play in left.

Catcher Pat Borders was Seattle's only free agent who was offered arbitration.

"We offered him arbitration because the club has a special relationship with this guy," Bavasi said.

The Mariners did not offer arbitration to their other free agents: reliever Armando Benitez, outfielder John Mabry, infielder Mark McLemore and shortstop Rey Sanchez.

Cameron, who turns 31 next month, joined Seattle in the February 2000 trade that sent Ken Griffey Jr. to Cincinnati. He won his second Gold Glove last season, committing only four errors in 492 chances for a .992 fielding percentage.

"I don't feel great about it," Bavasi said. "This guy filled some pretty big shoes. From the outside looking in, he made people forget Junior pretty quick with the year he had. It's not without an appreciation we did this."

Cameron hit .256 in four seasons with the Mariners, with the highlight coming May 2, 2002, when he hit four homers against the Chicago White Sox.

He also set a franchise single-season record with 176 strikeouts in 2002. Cameron hit .253 last season with 18 home runs and 76 RBIss, and Bavasi made it clear the Mariners want more offense.

"We want more offense by spreading the dollars around better than we could if we signed Michael," Bavasi said. "He understands that. He's just a little out of reach for us if we want to build up a better offense."

Rhodes, 34, has been with the Mariners four seasons, going 26-15 with a 3.07 ERA and eight saves. He was the team's only left-handed reliever last season, posting a 3.82 ERA before the All-Star break and a 4.96 after.

"We're not in the position to offer arbitration to those guys and we just have to live with that," Bavasi said.

The Mariners made it clear they're glad to have Hasegawa back.

He converted 16 of 17 save opportunities after taking over the closer's role June 21 when Kazuhiro Sasaki got hurt. Hasegawa also made his first All-Star appearance last season.

Manager Bob Melvin said Sasaki will close again next season, and Hasegawa's versatility will be used wherever it's needed.

"Whatever role he's in, he's proved to be the most versatile reliever in the American League," Melvin said.

Hasegawa's 1.48 ERA was a franchise season record for a reliever. Hasegawa's ERA was below 1.00 until Sept. 5, when he allowed an earned run at Baltimore that boosted his ERA from 0.98 to 1.09.

Last season was the first time Hasegawa worked primarily as a closer in the majors. After six seasons in the Japanese leagues, he spent five seasons with the Anaheim Angels, then flourished after joining the Mariners in 2002.

Bavasi said Hasegawa indicated he wanted to return to Seattle, but the reliever seriously considered other offers.

"He was prepared to take off, more than people think," Bavasi said. "I got to know him a little bit. He's an adventurer. I think he was prepared to go back East. I don't think he wanted to."

Opponents scored only 11 times in Hasegawa's 63 appearances last summer, and he stranded 21 of 26 inherited runners. He had a 12-game scoreless streak in 13 innings from April 23 to May 29.

The 35-year-old right-hander gets a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $2.5 million next season and $2,975,000 in 2005. Seattle has a $3.1 million option for 2006 that could become guaranteed under certain conditions. There is a $325,000 buyout.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index