SEATTLE (AP) -Desperate to bolster their rotation, the Seattle Mariners are closing in on a deal with pitcher Carlos Silva, one of the top arms in a weak free-agent market.
Talks between the sides have intensified, a person familiar with the negotiations said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Mariners are not discussing the talks publicly.
The 28-year-old right-hander was 13-14 last season with a 4.19 ERA - better than every Mariners starter other than hard-throwing Felix Hernandez.
With a rotation that includes Hernandez, Jarrod Washburn and Miguel Batista, Seattle wouldn't count on Silva to be a No. 1 starter, but likely would slot him third or fourth in the rotation. The Mariners are believed to be actively pursuing a trade with Baltimore for left-handed ace Erik Bedard.
Seattle is seeking two upgrades for a rotation that struggled with an inconsistent Jeff Weaver and Horacio Ramirez at the back end last season. The Mariners had hoped to sign Hiroki Kuroda, who agreed last weekend to a $35.3 million, three-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Progress on Silva's talks was first reported by
Silva spent four seasons in Minnesota, and his 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.
Silva does regularly pitch deep into games, something desperately missing from the Mariners' rotation last season, as Seattle's talented bullpen wore down late in the year. Silva pitched at least six innings in 24 of his 33 starts in 2007, including a pair of complete games. Seattle had just six complete games as a staff, three from Weaver.
Seattle briefly led the AL wild-card race late in the season before losing 15 of 17 in late August and early September. The Mariners finished 88-74, their best record since 2003.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.

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