Aardsma becomes free agent

David Aardsma saved 69 games for the Mariners in 2009-10. (Getty Images/Otto Greule Jr.)

Injured closer David Aardsma cleared waivers on Monday after having his contract outrighted by the Mariners, meaning he’s now a free agent.

Aardsma, 29, would have been owed at least $3.6 million in salary arbitration by the Mariners as he comes off Tommy John surgery on his elbow that will keep him out until midseason of next year, so he understands why he was waived and didn’t rule out a potential return.

“I loved my time in Seattle,” Aardsma said Monday. “I love the fans and thank Jack Zduriencik for giving me the opportunity to have a job and become a closer. I want to thank all the fans in Seattle for their support. It’s not fun, but it’s part of the job and this is going to be next step. It doesn’t mean I won’t be back.

“This is one of those things we all knew was coming because of the situation. It doesn’t close any doors, it just opens more,” he said.

Aardsma, 29, saved 69 games for Seattle in 2009-10, but missed all of last season after undergoing hip surgery in December and then Tommy John surgery in July after injuring his elbow during his comeback. He said he expects to be fully able to pitch somewhere between June and July of next season.

Aardsma made $4.5 million last year and had one season of arbitration eligibility remaining with the Mariners, who thus would have had to tender him an offer of at least 80 percent of his contract ($3.6 million) for the coming year or could have waited until Nov. 23 to non-tender a contract. Instead, the club outrighted him and he cleared waivers on Monday.

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