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Mariners ink Batista to three-year deal

Mariners ink Batista to three-year deal

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SEATTLE -- Even before the market for free-agent pitchers became "volcanic," as Seattle general manager Bill Bavasi noted last week, Miguel Batista had a good idea of where he fit in the landscape of the marketplace.

"We started with 20 [teams]," Batista said. "I felt like a 15-year-old girl. ... I can choose who I'm going to marry. I had a lot of options."

In the end, the 35-year-old Batista signed a three-year deal with Seattle on Thursday worth $25 million, despite the fact that Batista, according to Bavasi, had a more "substantial offer" to sign elsewhere after the two sides agreed to the deal.

"He's a man of his word," Bavasi said.

And now the Mariners hope that Batista, who turns 36 in February, can give the team the kind of durability he's shown in recent years and that kind of success that has made him a double-figure winner four times in the last six seasons.

"Miguel brings to us a guy -- when given the opportunity to start -- who logs innings and is an efficient guy on the mound with his pitches," Bavasi said. "He's a plus-pitcher when it comes to effectiveness and stamina. That's not easy to find."

Batista might not have been the high-profile free-agent pitcher Seattle initially wanted to land during the offseason, but he certainly became a viable option after Bavasi met with him in the Dominican Republic two weeks ago while watching some of the team's young talent in winter ball and while talking with soon-to-be Mariners outfielder Jose Guillen.

Batista, who said he was impressed with the Mariners last season during Interleague Play, was intrigued about the prospect of playing for Seattle and its core of young players like pitcher Felix Hernandez, second baseman Jose Lopez and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.

"I'm very excited. ... We might look good on paper, but I think we're going to be good on the field, too," Batista said. "They have guys here that are going to be playing together for a long time. That's how you create a dynasty -- by keeping good players together for a long time."

The well-traveled Batista -- who has played for seven teams, the last of which was the Arizona Diamondbacks last season -- has a career record of 68-79 with a 4.46 ERA in 397 games. He's been a starter most of his career but saved 31 games with Toronto in 2005.

"Miguel is a competitor first and foremost, and he knows what it takes to be on a winning club," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. "It's exciting anytime you can acquire a pitcher who wants the baseball. Miguel has proven time and time again in his career that he'll do whatever it takes to help his team win, and that's a positive aspect going into 2007."

Batista, who was 11-8 with a 4.58 ERA in 34 starts last season, is mostly a ground-ball pitcher who feels that he will benefit from Seattle's strong infield defense -- especially on the left side with third baseman Adrian Beltre and Betancourt.

"Defensively," he said, "they're supposed to be one of the best."

When he's not pitching, Batista is a published author, having written a crime novel called "The Avenger of Blood," a book that took him five years to finish.

The signing of Batista on Thursday gives the Mariners that second starting pitcher they were looking for in the offseason. Last week, the Mariners added left-hander Horacio Ramirez in a trade with Atlanta for reliever Rafael Soriano.

Bavasi wouldn't say one way or the other if the Mariners were done making upgrades to their starting rotation, which currently includes Batista, Hernandez, Ramirez, Jarrod Washburn and either Jake Woods, Cha Seung Baek or Ryan Feierabend.

Bavasi did indicate on Thursday that the bullpen is an area the team would like to address. He said that right-handed reliever Mark Lowe, who had elbow surgery in October, will likely be out until at least after the All-Star break.

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

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