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Reports: Washburn near four-year deal with Mariners

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Mariners are nearing a four-year deal
with free-agent pitcher Jarrod Washburn, filling the team's need
for another veteran arm in the starting rotation.

Washburn, who was fourth in the American League with a 3.20 ERA
last season, was close to a four-year deal worth between $35 and 40
million, a person familiar with the negotiations told The
Associated Press Friday night, speaking on condition of anonymity
because the deal was not yet in place.

The News Tribune of Tacoma first reported the parties nearing an
agreement on its Web site.

After spending his first seven years with the Los Angeles Angels, Washburn
became a free agent on Dec. 7 after the Angels declined arbitration
for the 31-year-old left-hander. General manager Bill Stoneman had
previously said the team was not going to try and re-sign Washburn.

Washburn's agent, Scott Boras, had been pursuing a five-year
deal for Washburn.

A deal could be completed this weekend, the source said.

A message left for Seattle general manager Bill Bavasi was not
immediately returned.

Last year, Washburn went 8-8 and made 29 starts. He had a brief
stint on the disabled list with inflammation in his pitching elbow.
It was just the sixth time in his career he was on the disabled
list.

His best season came in 2002, when he helped the Angels to their
only World Series title.

Washburn was 18-6 with a 3.15 ERA in the regular season. He has
a career record of 75-57 and a 3.93 ERA, but has won more than 11
games only once.

But with a rotation of Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon, John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar and young Ervin Santana for next season, the
Angels seem to have a solid rotation, and therefore let go of
Washburn and Paul Byrd, who signed with Cleveland.

After signing OF/DH Carl Everett earlier this week, Bavasi said
the Mariners are close to learning whether they would be able to
sign the free-agent pitchers they seek. Those were thought to be
Kevin Millwood and Washburn, both represented by Boras.

"I sense things are close one way or the other. We'll know if
we're in or out in a relatively short time," Bavasi said.

Bavasi added the team would not be content with its mostly
youthful rotation, anchored by 19-year-old Felix Hernandez. The
rest of Seattle's staff, for now, includes 27-year-olds Gil Meche
and Joel Pineiro, 32-year-old Ryan Franklin and 43-year-old Jamie Moyer.

Washburn adds another lefty to the rotation, joining Moyer, who
signed a one-year, $5.5 million deal last week.