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12/06/07 11:30 AM ET

Mariners nab Dickey in Rule 5 Draft

Right-handed knuckleballer adds depth to Seattle rotation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Mariners acquired a potential starting pitcher on Thursday morning at the Winter Meetings, selecting right-hander R.A. Dickey in the Rule 5 Draft.

The 33-year-old Dickey was 13-6 with a 3.72 ERA in 31 games for the Brewers' Triple-A team in Nashville this past season, leading the Pacific Coast League in wins, and was selected as the league's Pitcher of the Year. He signed a Minor League contract with the Twins on Nov. 28 -- a deal that included an invitation to Spring Training.

"He turned the corner about halfway through the year," Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said. "In that period, he probably was the best pitcher in Triple-A."

Dickey, who started throwing a knuckleball two years ago when he pitched for the Rangers, used that pitch to post a 10-2 record and 2.52 ERA after June 1.

Players chosen in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft must remain in the Major Leagues for the entire 2008 season. If the Mariners want to send Dickey to the Minors, they must first offer him back to the Twins for $25,000 -- half of the $50,000 claiming fee.

"Our roster situation right now allows us to take a flier on this guy," Bavasi said. "We're trying to create some starting-pitcher depth, and he could also be a long [reliever]."

Does any of Seattle's catchers have experience catching a knuckleball?

"That's the next step," Bavasi said. "I have no idea if [Kenji Johjima] has ever caught a knuckleballer. Most backups love these guys because it gives them a chance to play."

Winter Meetings

Dickey pitched in the Majors during the 2001 and 2003-06 seasons, compiling a 16-19 record in 77 games, including 33 starts. He made the transition to becoming a knuckleball pitcher following the 2005 season.

The Mariners went through the Major League phase of the Draft without losing any of their Minor League players, but the Brewers selected right-handed pitcher Juan Sandoval in the Triple-A portion of the Draft.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.