Patterson, Orioles agree on $4.3 million, 1-year contract

Updated: February 9, 2007, 1:17 PM ET
Associated Press

BALTIMORE -- Center fielder Corey Patterson avoided arbitration with the Baltimore Orioles, agreeing Friday to a $4.3 million, one-year contract.

Patterson had a career-high 45 stolen bases last season and batted .276 -- 61 points higher than he hit in 2005 with the Chicago Cubs. He had 16 homers, 53 RBIs and scored 75 runs.

The 27-year-old Patterson was asking for $4.6 million, and the Orioles offered $4 million. Patterson also can make $150,000 each for 500 and 520 plate appearances.

"I think both sides are pleased. Now I can fully concentrate on the 2007 season," Patterson said Friday from Atlanta in a phone call to The Associated Press.

Obtained in January 2006 in a trade with the Cubs, Patterson was initially used sparingly by Baltimore. He was batting .067 on April 18 before taking over in center field for an injured David Newhan; by the end of the month Patterson was batting .286.

Patterson remained in the starting lineup, except for a 15-game stretch in which he was sidelined after injuring his right shoulder while making a catch on Aug. 29 at Texas.

His 45 stolen bases -- on 54 attempts -- was tied for the third in the AL and was the third-highest single-season total in Orioles history. He had steals in nine straight games from May 25-June 7, the longest streak in the majors since Rickey Henderson had a similar nine-game run in 1986.

In addition, he did not ground into a double play in 499 plate appearances. That was the sixth-highest total without a GIDP over the last 73 seasons, according to STATS, Inc.

Patterson will enter spring training as the projected starting center fielder.

"If I'm able to maintain my versatility, I can help the Orioles win games," he said. "A lot of players are one-dimensional, but I want to do things like get base hits, steal bases -- and hit home runs."

It is possible, however, that newcomer Jay Payton could see action against left-handed pitching. Patterson, a left-handed batter, hit only .207 against lefties.

"The only person I compete against is myself," Patterson said. "Every year, I treat every opportunity as if I'm a rookie. That was I always stay hungry."

Left-hander Erik Bedard is the lone Oriole remaining in arbitration. Bedard is asking for $4 million; the Orioles have offered $2.7 million.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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