Ron Villone sounded pleased yesterday, but calling from his home in New Jersey he didn't even mention the Jets' big win over the Seahawks. His excitement was all baseball. As expected, Villone accepted...

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Ron Villone sounded pleased yesterday, but calling from his home in New Jersey he didn’t even mention the Jets’ big win over the Seahawks.

His excitement was all baseball. As expected, Villone accepted the Mariners’ offer of salary arbitration by last night’s deadline.

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“Of course, I’m coming back,” said the left-hander, who is Seattle’s only free agent. “Seattle is where I want to be.”

His acceptance means he is now under contract to the Mariners, with details to be worked out between the club and agent Scott Boras.

Talks are already under way on what is believed to be a two-year deal. However, if there is no agreement before the filing period for arbitration in February, the contract will be decided by an arbitrator.

Villone, who led the Mariners with eight wins in 2004, spent much of the season working effectively out of the bullpen before jumping into the rotation to make 10 starts when Joel Pineiro went down in August with elbow trouble.

Villone had no knowledge if he will be in the rotation or in relief next year.

“I told them when the season was over that I wanted to be back, and that I’ll do whatever it takes to help the team win.”

The news that Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre, the latter a fellow Boras client, were now teammates, made a strong impression on Villone.

“I may have known that Beltre was going to be with us before a lot of people,” the pitcher said. “It’s great to have a couple of studs like them with us, and they’ll help just as much on defense as offense. As a pitcher, you know how good that sounds to me.”

In other roster developments, the Mariners must tender contracts to all roster players by midnight tonight, Dec. 20, as required by the basic agreement.

Last week, assistant general manager Lee Pelekoudas said he did not anticipate any non-tenders, the method in which teams cut more experienced players who are not under multiyear contacts, especially those who are arbitration eligible.

Seattle has three such veterans: pitcher Gil Meche and infielder Jolbert Cabrera, who are eligible for arbitration, and utility man Willie Bloomquist.

In related business, GM Bill Bavasi and his staff will be looking over the list of veterans who are not tendered contacts by other teams, which makes them free agents.

Seattle will be focusing on pitching, especially on a starter, with the idea of possibly moving Ryan Franklin to the bullpen.