Mariners deal two prospects for Vidro

Updated: December 19, 2006, 4:39 PM ET
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Jose Vidro doesn't mind changing teams, leagues or positions.

Jose Vidro
Vidro

The Seattle Mariners acquired Vidro and $4 million from the Washington Nationals for oft-injured outfielder Chris Snelling and right-hander Emiliano Fruto in a deal finalized Monday.

Vidro waived his no-trade clause knowing that he is likely to see most of his time with the Mariners as a designated hitter.

"They need my bat. They need it bad," Vidro said Monday by telephone from his native Puerto Rico.

Vidro understands Washington views Felipe Lopez as its long-term second baseman and Cristian Guzman, recovered from shoulder surgery, is set to be the Nationals' shortstop.

Keith Law's take
Keith Law
Jose Vidro is an old 33: His knees are shot, he can't play the field anymore, and his power is gone. He'll be one of the worst designated hitters in the American League, and he just bumped a superior hitter, Ben Broussard, out of that role.

• For more of Keith Law's analysis, click here. Insider

"I'm only 32. I feel I can still play in the field," Vidro said. "Unfortunately, it's a situation for me to have to go there as a DH. But, hey, I like challenges."

Seattle general manager Bill Bavasi said Vidro was not on the team's list of targeted players when the Mariners arrived at the winter meetings. But the Mariners needed to boost an offense that scored an AL-low 756 runs last season.

"We knew we needed to add at least one guy to be a contact guy for us, a guy who keeps innings going," general manager Bill Bavasi said. "We feel we can add him to our batting order anywhere from the second to the sixth-spot. ... I think we are a much stronger offensive team."

Ben Broussard, a left-handed bat acquired in a trade with Cleveland last season to be the Mariners' DH, hit just .230 against right-handed pitching and just .238 overall after the trade.

The Mariners had five players with at least 10 at bats as a DH last season: Carl Everett, Broussard, Eduardo Perez, Mike Morse and Sexson. They were last among AL DHs in slugging percentage (.358), on-base percentage (.298) and runs (65) and next-to-last in average (.233), doubles (21) and RBI (65).

Vidro had been the longest-tenured player currently with the Expos-Nationals franchise, but has been slowed by leg injuries the past two seasons. He hit .289 with seven homers, 26 doubles and 47 RBI last season, when he missed 36 games.

He is a career .301 hitter with 115 homers and 550 RBI in 10 seasons, all in Montreal and Washington.

Vidro is due $7.5 million next year and $8.5 million in 2008. Trading him fits with the Nationals' plan to lower the age of their roster.

"This deal gives us payroll flexibility both in 2007 and 2008, and it gives us a chance to acquire two young prospects who will have the opportunity to compete for roster spots in 2007 and 2008," Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said.

Seattle gave Vidro a 2009 vesting option added to his contract as part of the deal. If the option doesn't become guaranteed, Vidro would receive a $500,000 payment.

"Playing in the American League will lengthen his career," Bowden said.

It will also make it more meaningful, Vidro said.

"I like that I am going to be on a very competitive team that is trying to win -- not trying to rebuild, which is now the case in Washington," he said.

The Mariners still have two openings in their rotation and have inquired about free agent Barry Zito. Zito's agent, Scott Boras, envisions a six- or seven-year contract.

Notes
The Nationals agreed to minor league contracts with LHP Ray King and RHP Jason Simontacchi, and Washington sent C Brandon Harper outright to Triple-A Columbus. King was 1-4 with a 4.43 ERA in 67 relief appearances for Colorado last season, his eighth in the majors, while Simontacchi last pitched in the big leagues in 2004, when he had shoulder surgery. Both relievers will be 33 on opening day.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press