Mariners sign OF Lawton to one-year contract

SEATTLE (Ticker) - Matt Lawton will attempt to reconstruct his career in the “Emerald City.”

The Seattle Mariners agreed to terms with Lawton on a one-year contract Thursday with the hopes that the two-time All-Star can clean up his image and regain his form.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but is reporting the deal to include a $400,000 base salary with incentives that could increase the value to $1.25 million.

The 34-year-old Lawton split last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees, batting a combined .254 with 13 home runs, 53 RBI and 18 stolen bases.

However, Lawton likely will be remembered for becoming the 12th player to be suspended under baseball’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs. The suspension, which was announced by Major League Baseball on November 2, will cost Lawton the first 10 games of the 2006 season.

“Matt is a solid lefthanded hitter and base stealer who will provide us with depth and flexibility,” Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said. “He can help us in a variety of roles, including the ability to play all three outfield positions.”

While Lawton’s numbers were respectable last season, his performance largely was considered a disappointment - especially at the last two stops.

Lawton hit just .244 (19-for-78) with one home run in 19 games with the Cubs before being traded August 27 to the Yankees, for whom he batted just .125 (6-for-48) with two homers in 21 games before being left off their postseason roster.

An 11-year veteran, Lawton is a career .267 hitter with 138 homers, 630 RBI and 165 stolen bases.

The Mariners, who finished with a 69-93 record last season, also signed designated hitter Carl Everett earlier this month to add pop to a lineup that includes sluggers Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre.

Seattle ranked 26th in the major leagues with a .256 team batting average, 25th with 130 home runs and 21st with a .260 average with runners in scoring position.

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Updated Thursday, Dec 22, 2005