Mariners ink Silva to four-year deal
Right-handed innings-eater has been impressive vs. AL West
SEATTLE -- Carlos Silva, a coveted free-agent pitcher who signed a four-year deal with the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, made his decision based as much on the quality of team as where the team plays.He loves the spacious dimensions of Safeco Field. "It's my favorite stadium. It's like a pitcher's stadium," said Silva, whose deal has reportedly varied between $44 million and $48 million. "[Safeco is] going to be a big difference. I'm a sinker-ball pitcher. Here, we're going to have grass. We have [Adrian] Beltre as the third baseman, [Yuniesky] Betancourt at shortstop, [Jose] Lopez at second base. It's like, just throw the ball. Just hit the glove." For Silva, Safeco might be his field of dreams compared to the Metrodome, where he labored for the past four seasons on its hard turf and shallow fences. "I believe I'm going to help this team a lot," said Silva, who was introduced to the Seattle media Thursday. "Last year they were very close to the playoffs. I'm not going to say it was because they don't have enough pitching, but I know I'm going to help." After Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda spurned the Mariners last week, signing with the Dodgers, Silva became the club's focus. He was 47-45 in his four years with the Twins. Last season, he was 13-14 with a 4.19 ERA. He made 33 starts and pitched at least six innings in 24 of them, including a pair of complete games. Seattle had just six complete games last season, half by departed right-hander Jeff Weaver. Silva, who came up with the Phillies, has a 55-46 record in six big league seasons (125 starts). He has had three starts at Safeco Field, going 2-1 with a 3.98 ERA. He has a 16-8 record against the American League West with a 3.48 ERA. He has beaten the Angels three times in four career decisions. With two months to go before training camp, Silva joins a rotation that, at this point, includes right-handers Felix Hernandez and Miguel Batista, and left-hander Jarrod Washburn. "He is an innings-eater and strike thrower, and that's a good combination," manager John McLaren said. "We always preach to our starters to pitch as deep into the game as they can, and he likes to go deep into the game. If we do that, our bullpen would be better because we wouldn't have to overwork them. He's a good competitor, a veteran, and he'll complement Washburn and Batista and help Felix out." Over the past four seasons, Silva has tossed 203 innings, 188, 180 and 202. Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi says the 28-year-old Silva "would be a good fit anywhere, not just our club. "In this market, we really felt this was the No. 1 guy out there," he said. "We think this is a big add for us." The Mariners, who haven't made the postseason since 2001, are still looking to add. They are believed to be involved in trade discussions with the Baltimore Orioles for left-hander Erik Bedard, likely for a combination of top prospects that could include prized outfielder Adam Jones. The club also has two relievers being stretched out and groomed for potential starting roles -- Ryan Rowland-Smith and Brandon Morrow. The club also picked up knuckleballer R.A. Dickey this winter. "Morrow is pitching very well in Venezuela, building up to 90 pitches, I believe," McLaren said. "Rowland-Smith built his arm up. What we hear about Dickey is the second half of the season he was unhittable. Evidently, he really got the knack of the knuckleball and he will be an interesting guy to look at. I know he's a competitor.
"With him, Morrow and Rowland-Smith, we have some options there. Our offseason priority was to build up our rotation. Sending these guys to winter ball to build their arm strength, adding Dickey and now picking up Silva, we are starting to accomplish some of the goals we set out to accomplish coming into the offseason."Silva reached the Majors with the Phillies in 2002. He was traded to Minnesota in 2003 along with Nick Punto and Bobby Korecky for Eric Milton. In two seasons with the Phillies, Silva was used almost exclusively as a reliever, going 8-1 with a 3.83 ERA in 130 appearances. Silva's first season with the Twins was his best, when he went 14-8 with a 4.21 ERA in 33 starts. He was 9-8 with a 3.44 ERA in 2005, but struggled the last two seasons, going a combined 24-29. He had a strong second half with the Twins last season, going 7-4 with a 3.72 ERA. He said it could have been because of a more effective split-finger pitch, which he learned with the help of teammate Johan Santana during Spring Training. "Silva is a ground-ball, sinker-ball pitcher and will have an excellent teacher in [new pitching coach] Mel Stottlemyre, who was a sinker-ball pitcher," McLaren added. "I think that's a great fit. Having him pitch on grass instead of turf and having a little cooler weather in the summer will allow him to stay strong, so we're really excited about Carlos."
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.