M's lose one shortstop, gain three others

After weeks of waiting, two deals became official on Thursday as the Mariners announced the trade of Carlos Guillen to Detroit and the free agent signing of shortstop Rich Aurilia as Guillen's replacement.

After spending parts of six seasons with the Seattle Mariners organization, Carlos Guillen was shipped out of town on Thursday to make room for the free agent signing of shortstop Rich Aurilia.

Guillen, who came over from Houston in the Randy Johnson trade of 1997 along with Freddy Garcia and John Halama, was traded to Detroit for a pair of young middle infielders, Ramon Santiago and Juan Gonzalez.

Guillen leaves Seattle after recording 439 hits, 29 homeruns and 211 RBI in an injury-plagued Mariner career. He hit .276 last season in 388 at bats in 2003, and was signed to a one-year deal in the offseason for a contract that could have paid him as much as $3.4 million had he reached all the incentives in 2004.

Aurilia, 32, leaves San Francisco after nine major league seasons with the Giants and 1002 career hits, all in the black and orange. He signed for what is believed to be a one-year deal worth $3.5 million according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The veteran shortstop completes a revamped left side of the infield in 2004, with free agent acquisition Scott Spiezio penciled in to start at third base and Aurilia taking over at shortstop.

Aurilia comes to Seattle after being pursued heavily by Colorado, coming off a season where he battled a tear duct problem that affected his vision his production. It has since been corrected, and the M's hope he can return to the form he played at as a 30-year-old in 2001, where he hit .324 with 37 homers and 97 RBI.

In 2003, Aurilia batted .277 with 13 homers and 58 RBI. The two players from Detroit, Santiago and Gonzalez, add to the organization's abundance of middle infielders and both come without hurting the Mariners' payroll.

Santiago, who will be 24 on Opening Day, spent the past two seasons with Detroit after being rushed to the big leagues at the age of 23 in 2002. Rated as the Tigers' second-best prospect in 2000 and 2001 by Baseball America, Santiago suffered a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder at the end of the 2000 season that caused his stock to drop a bit.

Known for his accurate arm and above-average range, the switch-hitting Santiago struggled from the plate in his first two big league seasons, hitting just .243 in 2002 and .225 in 444 at bats last season. Santiago made just $307,000 a year ago, and will make little more in 2004. He'll likely be the last guy off the Mariners bench this season, and if not, will start the year at Triple-A Tacoma.

Gonzalez will turn 22 on Feb. 23 and, like Santiago, is a switch-hitter. He's a candidate to play on the left side of the infield, having shown the arm-strength to play third base and shortstop.

The 6-0, 165-pound Gonzalez spent the past two seasons at West Michigan of the Midwest League, hitting .253 in 2002 and .249 in 2003. As a 19-year-old in his first professional season in 2001, Gonzalez hit .333 in 192 at bats in rookie ball and .344 in 32 at bats at Single-A Oneonta. He'll likely begin 2004 at Single-A Inland Empire, one step up from the past two seasons.

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