Mariners deal two prospects for Vidro

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.

"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

"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.

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.