January 19, 2010

Carl Pavano avoided arbitration on Tuesday by reaching agreement with the Twins on a guaranteed one-year, $7 million deal for 2010. It is the first time the Twins have ever guaranteed an arbitation-eligible one-year deal.

On the busiest day of baseball's offseason, Pavano was just one of 71 players eligible for arbitration who reached agreements on contracts, leaving just 38 still on track for hearings next month. That's a fraction of the more than 200 players eligible for arbitration in November, the 128 who filed on Friday and the 46 who swapped figures with their teams earlier Tuesday.

Jonathan Papelbon and the Red Sox avoided arbitration Tuesday by agreeing to a $9.35 million contract for 2010, a move first reported by ESPNBoston.com. The agreement surpassed Mariano Rivera's $7.25 million contract after the 2000 season and was halfway between the $10.25 million Papelbon asked for and the $8.45 million the Red Sox offered. Boston also agreed to one-year deals with relievers Ramon Ramirez ($1,155,000) and Manny Delcarmen ($905,000), leaving outfielder Jeremy Hermida as the lone Red Sox player remaining in arbitration.

The Rockies signed two players, closer Huston Street and reliever Rafael Betancourt. Street gets a three-year, $22.5 million deal that avoids arbitration and Betancourt agreed to a two-year, $7.55 million contract. Both of those contracts are pending physicals.

Josh Hamilton avoided arbitration with the Texas Rangers on Monday by agreeing to a $3.25 million contract for 2010, plus incentives. Hamilton had a breakout year in 2008, leading the AL with 130 RBIs, but slumped through an injury-plagued 2009, finishing with just 10 home runs and 54 RBIs in 89 games.

The Dodgers avoided arbitration with two key players: relief pitcher George Sherrill, who got $4.5 million plus incentives, and first baseman James Loney, who agreed to a $3.1 million deal for the coming year.

Among other players who avoided arbitration were Marlins infielder Jorge Cantu ($6 million), Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew ($3.4 million), Angels pitcher Jered Weaver ($5.45 million), Cardinals outfielder Ryan Ludwick ($5.45 million), Mets outfielder Jeff Francoeur ($5 million), A's outfielder Rajai Davis ($1.35 million plus incentives), Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick ($1.75 million plus incentives, Nationals outfielder Josh Willingham ($4.6 million), Royals third baseman Alex Gordon ($1.15 million) and Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez ($2.1 million plus incentives).

Tampa Bay and pitcher Matt Garza both filed at $3.35 million, an unusual occurrence. Not surprisingly, they also agreed at that figure.

Among free agents, the Tigers finalized their $14 million, two-year contract with Jose Valverde, who will become their closer. Valverde, 30, had 25 saves in 29 chances for the Houston Astros last year, when he struck out 56 in 54 innings and limited opponents to a .207 batting average.

Bengie Molina opted to stay with the San Francisco Giants, agreeing to a one-year deal that guarantees the catcher $4.5 million and allows him to earn $1.5 million more based on games started, two people familiar with those talks said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because that agreement wasn't announced.

Molina turned down a proposal from the New York Mets that would have guaranteed $5.5 million and included a vesting option for 2011.

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