Mariners' tally: Big bat, starting duo

Mariners' tally: Big bat, starting duo

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- In years past, Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi has used the Winter Meetings as the launching point for several essential free-agent signings.

Bavasi laid the groundwork at the meetings for forthcoming deals with third baseman Adrian Beltre, first baseman Richie Sexson and, last year, left-hander Jarrod Washburn.

This year, Bavasi tried a different tact, as he was proactive from the start of the meetings at the Dolphin Hotel to the finish.

Instead of just doing the legwork for future deals, the Mariners filled two areas of need with the signing of free-agent outfielder Jose Guillen and, Thursday, making trades for two starting pitchers -- right-hander Sean White (Pirates) and left-hander Horacio Ramirez (Braves).

Seattle's biggest need entering the offseason was starting pitching and the addition of Ramirez will go a long way in filling the three open spots in the rotation behind Felix Hernandez and Washburn.

Seattle traded reliever Rafael Soriano to the Braves on Thursday for Ramirez, who was 5-5 with a 4.48 ERA in 14 starts for the Braves during an injury-plagued 2006 season.

"He's young [27] and he had plus-stuff," Bavasi said of Ramirez. "A left-hander in our park is a good fit."

Seattle picked up White from the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash considerations.

The Mariners showed restraint at the Winter Meetings, choosing to steer clear of the free-agent market for pitching.

Even with the additions of Guillen, White and Ramirez, the Mariners aren't likely done looking for upgrades to their roster. They would still like to add another starting pitcher.

Chris Arnold, the agent for free agent John Thomson, said Seattle has interest in the right-handed pitcher. "I think they have him at a fallback position," Arnold said.

Arnold added "we're very interested in Seattle" and that Thomson was "slipping under the radar."

Thomson was 2-7 with a 4.82 ERA in an injury-filled 2006 campaign. He appeared in 18 games and threw only 80 1/3 innings after missing three months with a mild fraying of his right shoulder.

Deals done: Seattle signed free-agent outfielder Guillen to a one-year contract worth $5.5 million with $3 million in incentives. His deal includes a $9 million mutual option for 2008. The Mariners added left-hander Ramirez for reliever Soriano. Seattle obtained White on Thursday in a deal with Pittsburgh for cash considerations.

Rule 5 activity: None.

Goals accomplished: By acquiring Guillen, Seattle added the corner outfielder with power it wanted. Guillen will play right field and, if his right elbow is healthy, he could hit 20-plus home runs, even in spacious Safeco Field. Ramirez gives the Mariners another starting pitcher, and a left-hander at that. White gives the Mariners more starting pitching depth.

Unfinished business: Despite deals for Ramirez and White, the Mariners might not be done looking for starting pitching. Bavasi wants to add another starting pitcher and another bat as a complement to lefty Ben Broussard as a designated hitter platoon.

GM's bottom line: "It's one of the more miserable Winter Meetings I've ever been to. I think it's the lack of activity and the volcanic market." -- Bavasi.

Corey Brock is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.