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Aurilia gets one year at $3.15M

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Mariners are trying to boost their
offense, and Rich Aurilia is confident he can help.

The Mariners agreed to a $3.15 million, one-year contract
Thursday with the free-agent shortstop, then traded Carlos Guillen
to the Detroit Tigers for Ramon Santiago and minor league shortstop Juan Gonzalez.

"Seattle was always my choice of the teams that were
interested," Aurilia said. "I knew they had an immediate chance
to win. A one-year deal should be added incentive, get me working
really hard so I can get an extension."

Aurilia can make an additional $350,000 in performance bonuses.

The 32-year-old Aurilia has spent eight seasons with the San
Francisco Giants, hitting .277 last season despite a problem with
the tear duct in his left eye that made it difficult to wear
contact lenses.

His best year was 2001, when he hit .324 with 37 home runs and
97 RBIs. He should provide more punch for a team that hit .271 last
season and slumped at the plate late in the season.

Aurilia has a career hitting average of .278 and a career
fielding average of .972. After his "dry eye" problem was
corrected near midseason, Aurilia hit .312 in the second half.

"I had some injury problems, just some weird things that kept
me out of the lineup and affected me offensively," he said. "I
look forward to going out and re-establishing myself as one of the
top offensive shortstops in baseball."

The acquisition gives Seattle an overhauled left side for 2004.
The Mariners also added free agents Scott Spiezio at third base and
Raul Ibanez in left field, moving Randy Winn to center field.

The 28-year-old Guillen hit .276 in 109 games last season,
splitting time at shortstop and third base. He nearly was traded
last month but a deal with the Indians for shortstop Omar Vizquel
couldn't be completed.

The Tigers were among teams vying for Aurilia, but the situation
worked out well for president and general manager Dave Dombrowski.

"We're very happy because we've been trying to add a shortstop
throughout the winter," he said. "Now our double-play combination
is Carlos Guillen and Fernando Vina, and we feel encouraged about
that."

Guillen has been slowed by minor injuries during his five years
in the majors. He saw action in only nine games last July because
of an inflamed pelvis and did a rehabilitation assignment in the
minors.

During the winter meetings, the Mariners signed Guillen to a
one-year $2.5 million contract that included up to $900,000 in
performance bonuses. He had been eligible for salary arbitration.

Seattle general manager Bill Bavasi has said over the past month
the team would consider anything to boost its offense, so trading
Guillen doesn't come as a huge surprise.

On the other hand, Bavasi emphasized there were no concerns
about bringing Guillen back.

"When we signed Carlos, it was with the understanding he was a
starting shortstop in the major leagues," Bavasi said. "It's not
like we signed Rich to run Carlos off."

In another move, Seattle agreed to a minor league contract with
catcher Pat Borders, who has spent the past three seasons in the
Mariners system.

Borders, who turns 41 in May, was the only Seattle free agent
who was offered salary arbitration, but he rejected it. He would
get a $500,000, one-year contract if he is added to the 40-man
roster.

Dombrowski acknowledged reports indicating the Tigers are vying
to sign free agent catcher Ivan Rodriguez. He declined to say
whether Detroit was interested in signing Rodriguez.

"You always want to get better, but that has not been our
focus," he said. "Our focus has been at shortstop. Now that we
have acquired one, we will look for other ways to improve our
club."