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Arroyo agrees to three-year, $12M deal

BOSTON -- The departure of fun-loving teammates Johnny Damon
and Kevin Millar didn't dissuade Bronson Arroyo from staying with
the Boston Red Sox.

The 28-year-old right-hander took a hometown discount from the
Red Sox on Thursday, agreeing to a three-year contract worth about
$11.2 million. Arroyo said he took the deal against the advice of
his agents because he liked playing in Boston.

"I signed at a pretty good discount," Arroyo said in a
conference call with reporters. "They felt going year-to-year
would be more beneficial for me financially. ... They felt like I
was leaving close to $4 million on the table. But I could be in a
car wreck tomorrow. So, at this point in my career, it's obviously
benefiting me with a little bit of security."

Millar gave Boston its "Cowboy Up" motto in 2003, and Damon
dubbed the Red Sox "idiots" during their World Series run in
2004, Arroyo's first full year in the majors. The guitar-playing
bleach blonde fit in well in the carefree clubhouse, but the team's
personality might be changing around him.

"Any time you have a group of guys you enjoy playing with and
you love playing with, you hate to see those guys go," Arroyo
said. "But I always say that the fans are going to be here,
hopefully they're going to come out and fill up this stadium for
the next 100 years, and make it enjoyable for every guy that plays
in this uniform to be here.

"Having Kevin Millar leave, and Johnny Damon, is definitely
disappointing. But it doesn't change the fact that Fenway Park is a
joy to come to every single day."

Arroyo went 14-10 with a 4.51 ERA last season, pitching 205 1/3
innings. But as a young, relatively inexpensive pitcher, he is
always among the first names mentioned when the Red Sox talk with
small market teams looking to unload salaries.

"I love playing here. I love the fans. I love the city. I want
to stay here for my whole career," he said. "I feel that's going
to beneficial for me as well as the team. Hopefully, they see it
that way and don't trade me."

Arroyo made $1,925,000 last season and asked for $4.2 million in
arbitration. The team offered $2.95 million. Arroyo said neither of
the Red Sox co-general managers, Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington,
could promise him that he won't be traded.

"But Jed and Ben both stated to me that there was no deal on
the table for me right now, and they felt pretty strongly that I
wouldn't be traded any time anywhere in the near future," Arroyo
said. "They couldn't guarantee me security for the lifetime of the
contract."

Even so, Arroyo jumped at the chance to stay with the team he
helped end an 86-year World Series drought. He went 10-9 in the
regular season, but was bounced to the bullpen in the playoffs
after a bad start in the AL Championship Series against the New
York Yankees sent the Red Sox to the brink of elimination.

Arroyo said the high expectations in Boston are part of the
challenge.

"It's fun for me. It's exciting," he said. "Every time you
come to the ballpark, you'd better bring your best or you know
you're going to be criticized for it."

The Red Sox have at least seven pitchers who could be in the
starting rotation in 2006.

"I've said in the past I'd do anything to help the team win,
and I still feel that way," he said. "I feel like I've proved
myself as a starter. But if they feel like I'm the sixth man and
I'm in the bullpen ... if that's the best thing for the team at
this point, then that's fine."