SEATTLE -- Four Mariners players remain unsigned heading into the start of the arbitration filing period on Wednesday, though infielder Brendan Ryan, acquired last month in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals, appears close to a deal. Ryan and the Mariners were still working toward a two-year contract as of Tuesday night, contrary to an Associated Press report that a $2.75-million deal already has been finalized. Ryan, acquired from St. Louis on Dec. 12 in a deal for Minor League pitcher Maikel Cleto, is expected to compete for a starting job at second base or shortstop when Spring Training opens next month in Peoria, Ariz.
This is the first season of arbitration eligibility for Ryan, 28, who won't become a free agent until 2014. In addition to Ryan, pitchers David Aardsma, Brandon League and Jason Vargas are the other unsigned Mariners in the arbitration process, which begins Wednesday with the first day for potential filings. Players can file for arbitration from Jan. 5-15, with both sides then exchanging contract numbers on Jan. 18. If no agreement is reached in the interim, arbitration hearings are held from Feb. 1-21. Aardsma had surgery on Monday in Vail, Colo., to repair the labrum in his left hip. He's expected to be able to resume throwing in about a month. Infielder Josh Wilson was the Mariners' other arbitration-eligible player, but he signed a one-year, $725,000 non-guaranteed contract on Dec. 2.