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Reds bring Dunn back for another season

CINCINNATI -- Adam Dunn became the Cincinnati Reds'
highest-paid player Wednesday when the team picked up his contract
option for $13 million next season.

The Reds answered their most expensive offseason question by
keeping their top power hitter, the only one in franchise history
to have 40 homers in four consecutive seasons. Dunn wanted to stay
with the team that drafted and developed him.

Owner Bob Castellini was consulted about the decision. Earlier
this month, Castellini said he wanted Dunn to stay, even if it cost
$13 million.

"Anytime you have a deal of this magnitude, ownership deserves
to be part of the process,'' general manager Wayne Krivsky said.

In addition, the Reds picked up the $1.85 million option for
first baseman Scott Hatteberg and a $1.35 million option for
catcher Javier Valentin, who has been their top pinch hitter the
last two seasons.

They declined a 2008 option for reliever Eddie Guardado, who is
trying to come back from reconstructive elbow surgery. Guardado
pitched in only 15 games last season and would have made $3.5
million.

Even though they declined the pricey option, the Reds are
interested in bringing Guardado back next season for less money.
The 36-year-old reliever had surgery 13 months ago, and the Reds
would like to see if he can get closer to his old form.

"I still want to get Eddie back here on terms that work for him
and us,'' Krivsky said. "We have an open mind in that respect.''

Dunn has been one of the Reds' most consistent power hitters
throughout his career. Fans have bristled at his strikeouts and his
below-average defense, two areas where he improved last season.

Dunn batted .264 with 40 homers, 101 walks and 106 RBIs last
season, when he made $10.5 million. In the second half of the
season, he dramatically reduced his strikeout rate, finishing the
year with 165.

Dunn, who was fishing on Wednesday and unable to return phone
calls, said at the end of the season that things had started to
come together for him at the plate.

"For him to say that, it must be true,'' Krivsky said. "Maybe
it's maturity. He started using the whole field more. He went with
pitches better and had more hits the other way.''

At $13 million, Dunn becomes the highest-paid player on the
payroll. Ken Griffey Jr. will have a $12.5 million salary next
season, the last guaranteed year on his contract.

Hatteberg batted .310 with 10 homers and 47 RBIs last season. He
didn't play much in the closing weeks of the season while the Reds
tried Joey Votto and Jorge Cantu at first base. It will be one of
the team's deepest positions heading into its first season under
manager Dusty Baker.

"These things take care of themselves through spring
training,'' Krivsky said. "We want to give Dusty all the weapons
we can to win with. I think we have depth at several positions.''

Valentin batted .276 with two homers and 34 RBIs. He led the
Reds with 40 pinch-hit at-bats.