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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Seattle signed Jose Guillen to a one-year, $5.5 million contract Monday with a mutual option for the 2008 season, giving the Mariners a starting right fielder and reliable bat in the middle of the order.
The announcement of the deal was the first formal signing of the four-day baseball winter meetings that began Monday. Guillen missed much of the 2006 season following reconstructive surgery on his right elbow - and his addition is only a start for Seattle, which also is looking to upgrade its starting rotation.
The contract allows Guillen to earn up to $3 million in performance bonuses. He will take over right field from Ichiro Suzuki, who is moving to center field.
"He fits real well in our lineup among (Raul) Ibanez, (Richie) Sexson and (Adrian) Beltre," manager Mike Hargrove said in a statement. "Considering the production he has shown in his career, it's a significant acquisition for us. He plays the game with a lot of passion and heart - he's not afraid to stick his nose in there."
The 30-year-old Guillen batted .216 in 69 games last season during his second year with the Washington Nationals, hitting nine home runs and 40 RBIs before his elbow injury.
He underwent a thorough physical with the Mariners' medical staff and the team believes he will return to full strength for 2007.
"We feel like this is a signing with some real upside," general manager Bill Bavasi said. "Our doctors have given him a very complete physical and we are very confident he's healthy. When Jose has been healthy in his career he's put up numbers."
During one season with the Los Angeles Angels in 2004, Guillen had several run-ins with manager Mike Scioscia that ended with Guillen being left off the roster for the division series against the New York Yankees after being suspended for the final eight games of the regular season. The team punished him for a tantrum he threw in the dugout and clubhouse after being removed for a pinch-runner on Sept. 25 that year.
Guillen was suspended for one game and fined late in 2005 for throwing a tantrum - and a lot of equipment - during a game against the New York Mets.
Guillen is a career .272 hitter with 143 home runs. He also played for the Oakland Athletics and Cincinnati Reds in 2003, as well as Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Arizona.