On a day the Mariners reached into their past to add left-hander Arthur Rhodes to the bullpen, they were closing in on a deal that would add World Series hero Jeff Weaver to their pitching rotation.
Sources confirmed that the Mariners are in serious negotiations with Weaver's agent, Scott Boras, on a one-year contract. He would be the third pitcher added to the Seattle rotation this winter, following Miguel Batista, signed as a free agent, and left-hander Horacio Ramirez, acquired in a trade with Atlanta.
The Mariners talked this week with free agent Mark Redman but ultimately focused on Weaver, who earned $8.3 million last year.
Rhodes, meanwhile, signed a minor-league contract and received an invitation to spring training. General manager Bill Bavasi said the 37-year-old Rhodes "is going to get a tremendous opportunity to make the club. You can never have too much left-handed pitching in the bullpen."
If the Mariners sign Weaver — and they appear headed in that direction — it would create another left-handed relief candidate in Jake Woods.
Woods and Cha Seung Baek were slated to compete for the No. 5 starting job, but Weaver's arrival would change that. Felix Hernandez and Jarrod Washburn are set for the two other spots in the rotation.
Weaver, 30, was deciding whether to push for a one- or two-year contract, FOXSports.com reported Thursday. He apparently decided to go for a one-year deal so he can explore free agency after this season. The Cardinals also had pursued Weaver, but were said to have bowed out as the Mariners' efforts gained steam.
Arthur Lee Rhodes
Position: relief pitcher.
Born: Oct. 24, 1969.
Height, weight: 6-2, 210.
Highlights: Has 16 years in the majors with five teams ... Went 26-15, 3.07 ERA with Seattle (2000-'03) ... Had two 10-win seasons (1997, 2002).
M's additions, 2007
RHP Miguel Batista (free agent)
RHP Chris Reitsma (free agent)
LHP Arthur Rhodes (free agent)
LHP Horacio Ramirez (trade with Atlanta)
OF Jose Guillen (free agent)
DH Jose Vidro (trade with Washington)
Weaver began last season with the Angels, but was released June 30 so the ballclub could make room for his younger brother, Jered Weaver. At the time of his release, Jeff Weaver was 3-9 with a 6.29 earned-run average in 88-2/3 innings.
Weaver signed with St. Louis, where he was 5-4 with a 5.18 ERA in 15 starts. But Weaver made his mark in the postseason, going 3-2 with a 2.43 ERA in five starts. He won the clinching fifth game of the World Series, limiting the Tigers to four hits and two runs over eight innings in a 4-2 victory.
Rhodes was a Mariners workhorse from 2000 to 2003, appearing in 276 games in that span with a 26-15 record and 3.07 ERA. He was a particularly dominant setup man for closer Kazuhiro Sasaki in 2000 and 2001, with the Mariners making the postseason both years.
"It's great for me to come back," Rhodes said in a conference call. "I had my best years there. My family had a good time. I'm excited, man."
Rhodes was involved in a memorable incident in 2001 when Cleveland's Omar Vizquel asked the umpire to have Rhodes remove his earring because it was reflecting in his eyes.
Rhodes pitched last year for Philadelphia, where he was 0-5 with a 5.32 ERA and four saves in 55 games.
Rhodes' season ended Sept. 9 because of an elbow strain, but says he has healed.
"I was just sitting home, waiting for my agent to call around for teams," he said. "When Seattle jumped in, I said, 'Hey, I'd love to go out there and play.' To tell you the truth, I'm going there to show what I can do and win a job at the same time."
Bavasi said he wants to give manager Mike Hargrove more balance in the bullpen. Other left-handed relievers on Seattle's roster are George Sherrill, Eric O'Flaherty, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Woods.
"I fully expect [Rhodes] to be on the club, if his stuff is the same as it was last year," Bavasi said. "He'll be more than fine here."
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146