Mariners sign No. 1 Hultzen to major league deal, release pitcher Chris Ray

Left-handed pitcher Danny Hultzen had a plan. Get four years and about $13 million from the Seattle Mariners and, oh yeah, ask to stay in school through the fall semester at the University of Virginia. In lieu of that, he just might stay at Virginia and pitch there his senior year.

What Hultzen, who the Mariners selected with the second overall pick in the June draft, got was a reported five years at $8.5 million guaranteed with bonuses that could push it to $10.6 million.

It’s a major league contract that left the Mariners in position to make a rare move to make room for a draft pick. They released injured relief pitcher Chris Ray.

Hultzen sent a text to the Mariners a few minutes ago saying he couldn’t wait to get started. He didn’t say if that would be in January after the fall semester at Virginia, although I’m thinking he’s ready to start pitching again.

Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara, who spent time with Hultzen recently, said he has been working out and staying in good shape. However, he hasn’t pitched since the college season ended in June.

Hultzen, who went 32-3 in three seasons at Virginia, reached agreement with the Mariners moments before tonight’s 9 p.m. deadline for teams to sign their college-eligible draft picks or lose them.

The Mariners also signed their second-round pick, Clemson shortstop Brad Miller, but not third-rounder Kevin Cron, a power-hitting high school first baseman from Phoenix.

Others signed tonight were eight-rounder Carson Smith, a right-handed pitcher from Texas State, and ninth-rounder Cavan Cohoes, a shortstop from Patch High School in Germany.

The Mariners signed 43 of their 51 picks.

Besides Cron, the other unsigned picks are right-handed pitcher Tanner Chleborad of Stevens High School in Rapid City, S.D. (24th round), right-handed pitcher Keone Kela of Chief Sealth High in Seattle (29th), left-handed pitcher Ryan Hawthorne of Loyola Marymount University (32nd), shortstop Taylor Smith-Brennan of Edmonds CC (34th), right-handed pitcher Jeremy Null of Bunker Hill High School in North Carolina (37th), first baseman Andrew Grifol of Santa Fe CC in Miami (49th) and catcher Esteban Tresgallo of Colegio Marista High School in Puerto Rico (50th).

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