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Notes: Felix Hernandez close to $175 million, 7-year deal

FELIX HERNANDEZ

ELAINE THOMPSON/Ap

FELIX HERNANDEZ

Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners are working on a $175 million, seven-year contract that would make him the highest-paid pitcher in baseball, according to a person with knowledge of the deal’s details.

The person spoke to the Associated Press Thursday on condition of anonymity because the agreement has not been completed. USA Today first reported the deal.

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Seattle would add $134.5 million of guaranteed money over five years to the contract of the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner, whose current agreement calls for him to receive $40.5 million over the next two seasons.

Hernandez’s total dollars would top CC Sabathia’s original $161 million, seven-year contract with the Yankees and his $25 million average would surpass Zack Greinke’s $24.5 million under his new contract with the Dodgers. Hernandez’s new money would average $26.9 million over five years, which would tie him for the second-highest average in baseball with Josh Hamilton and Ryan Howard behind Alex Rod­riguez ($27.5 million).

Hernandez agreed to a $78 million, five-year contract in January 2010 and has earned an additional $2.5 million in escalators and $300,000 in bonuses. He is due $20 million this year and $20.5 million in 2014, which would be superseded by the new deal.

Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said he could not comment when reached on Thursday, and Hernandez’s representatives didn’t immediately return messages.

If the deal is finalized, it would leave Detroit’s Justin Verlander and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw as the most attractive pitchers eligible for free agency after the 2014 season. Tampa Bay’s David Price is eligible after the 2015 season.

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Hernandez, who will turn 27 on April 8, is 98-76 with a 3.22 ERA in eight seasons with the Mariners. He won a career-high 19 games in 2009 when he finished second in the Cy Young voting, then won the award a year later when he went just 13-12 but had a 2.27 ERA and 232 strikeouts.

Hernandez appeared to be making another Cy Young push last year before going 0-4 in his last six starts.

Union: Early to judge

Players’ union head Michael Weiner said it would be unfair to make judgments about players and agents before evidence is sorted out in the sport’s latest drug investigation.

Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, and Nelson Cruz were among those implicated last week by the Miami New Times, which published documents it alleged showed they received performance-enhancing substances from a Florida anti-aging clinic.

Other players, including Ryan Braun and Jhonny Peralta, have since been linked to the clinic by other publications, and most of the players have issued denials of the allegations.

Major League Baseball is attempting to gain access to the documents and establish a chain of evidence that could be used to justify any potential suspension for violating the sport’s drug agreement.

‘‘This investigation that MLB is running has yet to produce any evidence that any player has violated the program, much less than any agent has violated the program,’’ Weiner said. ‘‘It’s unfair that both players that have had distinguished careers and that agents who have had distinguished careers . . . have had their names raised in this context.’’

Helton hit median

A police report said Rockies first baseman Todd Helton told an officer he had red wine hours before he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Helton is due in court May 20 on charges of DUI and careless driving. He was arrested early Wednesday at a gas station in the Denver suburb of Thornton, where he lives.

According to a police incident report released Thursday, officers arrested Helton after a witness reported seeing Helton’s truck swerve into a median before pulling into the gas station. Helton’s blood-alcohol level hasn’t been released, but police say it was above the legal limit. Officers say Helton volunteered that he had two cups of wine Tuesday night.

Indians sign Aviles

The Indians have signed infielder Mike Aviles to a two-year, $6 million contract with a club option for 2015. Aviles, who was acquired in a trade from Toronto in November, gives the Indians depth at second base, shortstop, and in the outfield if necessary. He spent last season as the Red Sox’ primary shortstop, batting .250 with 13 homers and 60 RBIs in 136 games. Aviles’s deal could be worth $9.25 million if he reaches performance bonuses. The 31-year-old received a $1 million signing bonus. By signing Aviles, the Indians avoided going to salary arbitration for the 22d straight season . . . The Mariners finalized a $1.5 million, one-year contract with catcher Kelly Shoppach, providing a needed backup to expected starter Jesus Montero. The 32-year-old Shoppach played for the Red Sox and the Mets last season, appearing in 76 games . . . Reliever Sergio Romo’s new contract with the Giants can increase from $9 million to $10.2 million if he closes regularly. Romo’s two-year deal, announced Wednesday, calls for salaries of $3.5 million this season and $5.5 million in 2014.

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