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Rauch avoids arbitration, agrees to 2-year deal with Nationals

WASHINGTON -- Reliever Jon Rauch and the
Washington Nationals agreed to a $3.2 million, two-year contract Saturday,
avoiding arbitration.

The right-hander will make $1.2 million in 2008 and $2 million
in 2009. The deal also includes a club option for $2.9 million in
2010 that must be exercised within five days of the end of the 2008
World Series.

Rauch's arbitration hearing had been scheduled for Wednesday. He
had asked for a raise from $455,000 to $1.4 million while the
Nationals submitted an arbitration figure of $1.1 million.

Last season, Rauch went 8-4 with four saves and a 3.61 ERA in 87
1/3 innings. He led the major leagues with 88 appearances.