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Mariners trying to upgrade rotation with Silva

SEATTLE -- 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 foxsports.com.

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.