Astros agree to $4,175,000 contract with Carter

HOUSTON (AP) The Astros agreed with Chris Carter on a one-year contract for $4,175,000 on Wednesday, avoiding arbitration with the slugging designated hitter.

''I'm just thrilled to be an Astro and to have this deal done so I can concentrate on the upcoming season and building on my success last year,'' Carter told The Associated Press.

Carter tied for second in the majors with a career-high 37 homers last season. The 28-year-old hit .227 with 88 RBIs, which also were the most of his career and led the Astros. It was his second season in Houston after a trade from Oakland.

Carter spent 118 games at designated hitter and started 14 games at first base and six in the outfield.

The Astros made a 19-game improvement last season to end a string of three-straight 100-loss seasons. With an offense led by Carter and Jose Altuve, a solid starting rotation and the addition of relievers Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek, Houston expects to take another step in 2015.

''I am excited about the way the team is shaping up and I feel like the new additions, combined with our core players, will help us be more successful in 2015,'' Carter said.

The deal gives Carter a big raise - he made just $510,000 last season. And Wednesday's agreement includes several award bonuses, among them $25,000 for being named to the All-Star game and $25,000 if he wins a Silver Slugger award.

Carter hit 29 homers in 2013 in his first full season in the majors. He had a tough start to 2014 before heating up after July 1 to finish three home runs behind MLB leader Nelson Cruz (40). Carter led the American League last season by hitting a home run once every 13.7 at-bats. His power had always been undeniable but in the second half of last season he made some tweaks to help him make more consistent contact and raise his batting average.

The changes allowed the 6-foot-4, 250-pound slugger to hit 20 homers and 48 RBIs in July and August combined. Carter participated in the Japan All-Star series this offseason and spent the rest of the time preparing for the season at his home in Las Vegas.

''I'm continuing working on what I worked on in the second half of the season and hope to carry it into this season,'' he said.

Other arbitration eligible players for Houston are catchers Jason Castro, Hank Conger and Carlos Corporan, outfielder Dexter Fowler, shortstop Marwin Gonzalez and left-handed reliever Tony Sipp.

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AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

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