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Thursday, January 08, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Mariners
Aurilia, Guillen deal near completion

By Bob Finnigan
Seattle Times staff reporter

Mariners shortstop Carlos Guillen appears close to being traded to the Detroit Tigers. The Mariners are expected to replace him with free agent Rich Aurilia, who batted .278 for San Francisco over nine seasons.
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With the arrival of free agent Rich Aurilia and departure of Carlos Guillen supposedly a clean physical or two from completion, there will be an intriguing corollary to the coinciding moves.

As an offshoot of the moves, which could be announced today, Seattle is expected to drop former No. 1 pick Ryan Anderson from the 40-man protected roster, which could lead to the end of the 6-foot-10 pitcher's seven frustrating years with the organization.

Word last night was that the Aurilia/Guillen change — essentially two moves so closely linked they might be regarded as one — was done but for Aurilia passing a physical exam and Detroit approving Guillen's medical records.

"There is nothing at the Tigers' end so far that would change the deal for Guillen," a source close to the Detroit club said. "The money is no problem (Guillen gets $2.5 million plus a possible $900,000 in incentives) and Detroit needs a shortstop and Guillen is the best available."

Aurilia, prized over Guillen as a grittier player and a contributor to San Francisco's recent postseason teams, is expected to sign a one-year deal at $3 million to $4 million.

It could bring Anderson's last days with Seattle, the only organization he wanted to sign with. Since coming to the Mariners as a No. 1 pick in 1997, when Anderson told other clubs he would sign only with Seattle to join his hero Randy Johnson, he had little chance to show his talent and 100 mph fastball.

Anderson, 24, once called the Little Unit, has four seasons of pitching (including a season in the instructional league), followed by three shoulder surgeries that wiped out his past three seasons.

However, if Seattle, as expected, gets a major-league player in any Detroit deal for Guillen — at this point, said by sources to be infielder Ramon Santiago — the Mariners have to make room on the major-league roster, which has all 40 slots filled.

In a similar situation in the recently completed trade to send Jeff Cirillo to San Diego, Seattle had to make room by dropping minor-league pitcher Brian Sweeney, leading to his inclusion in the deal.

While there is no indication Seattle would put Anderson in the deal with Detroit, the Mariners could include him in a deal with Detroit since he is a native of Southfield, Mich., a Detroit suburb.

"It's always a tough call when you're thinking about moving someone off the roster," said Benny Looper, Mariners vice president for player development and scouting. "We try to be prepared for roster changes, talk things over at organizational meetings and the winter meetings. But in this case we're faced with limited choices."

Making Anderson appear a lock to go is the fact that he is not expected to be ready to pitch until May or June, Looper said. Anderson has not pitched since September 2000. In addition, Anderson is in his final option season and if kept on the 40-man roster would become a minor-league free agent in October.

If Anderson is designated for reassignment rather than released or traded, it would give Seattle a chance to keep him in the organization if he passed through waivers.

If Anderson showed positive signs of arm strength and effective pitching, he could be put back on the 40-man roster.

"Any player that passes through waivers can be reinstated at any time, as long as he still is under club control," Looper said.

One additional benefit is that outrighted players do not use up an option, so if Anderson passed through waivers and was eventually reinstated to the Mariners' protected roster, his remaining option would be good for the 2005 season.


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