Pirates, LaRoche agree to one-year, $5 million contract

PITTSBURGH -- First baseman Adam LaRoche bypassed arbitration Tuesday by agreeing to a $5 million, one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates as the sides continue to discuss a multiyear deal.

LaRoche made $3.2 million in his first season with the Pirates in 2007, when he overcame a slow start to hit .272 with 21 home runs and 88 RBIs. He was the Pirates' major offseason acquisition a year ago in a deal with Atlanta that sent reliever Mike Gonzalez to the Braves.

The Pirates have four remaining arbitration-eligible players in second baseman Freddy Sanchez, outfielder Xavier Nady, left-hander John Grabow and third baseman Jose Bautista.

The team will exchange arbitration figures with those players Friday if no agreements have been reached by then. Arbitration hearings will begin Feb. 1.

The 28-year-old LaRoche has averaged 24 homers and 85 RBIs in three seasons as a regular with Atlanta and Pittsburgh. He had a .326 average over the Pirates' final 77 games last season after his average dropped to .191 in late May.