Pirates, LaRoche avoid arbitration

Updated: January 20, 2009, 9:33 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Pittsburgh Pirates have avoided arbitration with first baseman Adam LaRoche by signing him to a one-year, $7.05 million contract.

LaRoche
LaRoche

This contract makes LaRoche the Pirates' second-highest-paid player behind shortstop Jack Wilson, who will make $7.25 million this season.

LaRoche also can earn another $50,000 if he reaches 555 plate appearances, and an additional $50,000 if he reaches 590 plate appearances.

The 29-year-old LaRoche led the Pirates in home runs and RBIs in 2007, his first season in Pittsburgh, and finished second to Nate McLouth in both categories last year. Overall, he batted .270 with 25 home runs, 85 RBIs and a .500 slugging percentage. He is only the second Pirates first baseman since Willie Stargell to top 20 homers and 80 RBIs in back-to-back seasons. The other was Kevin Young (1998-99).

LaRoche will be eligible for free agency next winter.

Pittsburgh also agreed to one-year deals with left-handers Zach Duke ($2.2 million) and John Grabow ($2.3 million), and right-hander Tyler Yates ($1.3 million). That left outfielder Nate McLouth and left-hander Paul Maholm as the only Pirates remaining in arbitration.

In other signings Tuesday:

Catcher Gerald Laird and pitchers Edwin Jackson, Joel Zumaya and Bobby Seay agreed to one-year contracts with the Detroit Tigers, while right-hander Justin Verlander was unable to settle and swapped proposed figures with the team in salary arbitration.

Verlander, 11-7 with a 4.84 ERA for the last-place Tigers in 2008, asked for a raise from $1.13 million to $4.15 million whole Detroit offered $3.2 million. If the sides don't settle, the case will go to a hearing next month.

Laird's agreement is worth $2.8 million, while Jackson gets $2.2 million, Seay $1.3 million and Zumaya $735,0000. Detroit also agreed to a minor league contract with right-hander Juan Rincon.

The New York Mets signed right fielder Ryan Church to a one-year, $2.8 million deal. Church hit .276 with 12 homers in 90 games. He was bothered for much of the season by concussion-related issues.

The Mets also reached agreement with reserve outfielder Angel Pagan on a $575,000 deal.

A pair of Mets remained in arbitration when players and teams exchanged figures Tuesday: Starting pitcher John Maine asked for $3 million, with the club offering $2.2 million, and reliever Pedro Feliciano requested $1.95 million, while New York proposed $1.35 million.

Right fielder Xavier Nady agreed to a $6.55 million, one-year contract with the New York Yankees, and center fielder Melky Cabrera accepted a $1.4 million, one-year deal shortly after exchanging proposed arbitration figures with the team.

Nady, who made $3.59 million last year, was eligible for salary arbitration and can become a free agent after next season. Acquired from Pittsburgh in July, he hit a combined .305 with 25 homers and 97 RBIs.

Cabrera's salary is more than triple the $461,200 he made last year, when he was demoted to the minors from Aug. 15 to Sept. 5 and wound up hitting just .249 with eight homers and 37 RBIs. He had asked for $1.7 million and had been offered $1.2 million, making the settlement just below the midpoint.

He can earn an additional $100,000 in performance bonuses based on plate appearances: $25,000 each for 525, 550, 575 and 600.

The agreements raised the Yankees' projected Opening Day payroll to about $191 million for 16 players.

Relief pitcher Brian Bruney, the last Yankees player in arbitration, requested a hike from $725,000 to $1.55 million and was offered $1.1 million.

Relief pitcher C.J. Wilson agreed to a $1.85 million, one-year contract with the Texas Rangers, avoiding salary arbitration.

The 28-year-old left-hander went 2-2 with 24 saves and a 6.02 ERA in 50 relief appearances last season and made $417,460. His season ended early when he underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs in his left elbow in mid-August.

His agreement left outfielder Marlon Byrd as the last Texas player in arbitration.

Catcher John Buck and right-hander Joel Peralta agreed to one-year contracts with the Kansas City Royals and avoided salary arbitration.

The 28-year-old Buck hit .224 with 23 doubles, nine home runs and 48 RBIs in 109 games last year. A .234 hitter over five seasons with Kansas City, he has 62 career home runs.

The 32-year-old Peralta was 1-2 with a 5.98 ERA in 40 relief appearances last season and will make $640,000. In 194 career relief appearances, he is 4-8 with a 4.45 ERA.

Shortstop Jason Bartlett and the Tampa Bay Rays agreed on a one-year contract worth $1,981,250, avoiding arbitration.

Bartlett, part of the November 2007 trade that also brought right-hander Matt Garza to the AL champions in exchange for Delmon Young, made $412,500 while helping solidify the Rays' defense last season.

Manager Joe Maddon often referred to the 29-year-old as Tampa Bay's most valuable player during the team's run to the World Series. The Rays were 78-47 when he was in the lineup, compared to 7-9 when he was on the disabled list and 19-18 when he did not start.

Bartlett batted a team-leading .286 with one homer, 37 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. He hit an AL-best .379 against left-handed pitching.

His deal left third baseman Willy Aybar and catcher Dioner Navarro as the last Rays in arbitration.

The Baltimore Orioles avoided arbitration with Luke Scott by agreeing to terms with the outfielder on a one-year, $2.4 million contract.

Scott, 30, batted .257 with 23 home runs and 65 RBIs in 148 games for the Orioles in 2008. In 379 major league games, Scott has a .266 average with 51 home runs and 170 RBIs.

He was acquired from the Houston Astros in December 2007 along with four other players in exchange for shortstop Miguel Tejada.

Pitcher Brandon Backe and the Houston Astros agreed to a $1.55 million, one-year contract, a raise of $550,000.

The 30-year-old right-hander, who had been in arbitration, returned from elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2007 to go 9-14 with a 6.05 ERA in a career-high 31 starts last season. He is 29-27 with a 5.02 ERA in 78 starts with Houston from 2004 to '08.

Backe went 10-8 in 2005 and threw seven shutout innings in Game 4 of the World Series against the Chicago White Sox. He developed elbow problems in 2006, had surgery in September and returned late in the 2007 season.

Houston also agreed with reliever Tim Byrdak on a $1 million, one-year contract. The 35-year-old lefty went 2-1 with a 3.90 ERA in a career-high 59 appearances with the Astros in 2008.

Right-handed reliever Geoff Geary and left-handed starter Wandy Rodriguez remain in arbitration. Geary asked for $2.1 million and was offered $1,425,000 by the team, while Rodriguez proposed $3 million and was offered $2.25 million.

The Florida Marlins agreed to one-year contracts with pitcher Ricky Nolasco, outfielder Cody Ross and utility player Alfredo Amezaga, avoiding salary arbitration with all three players.

Nolasco agreed to a $2.4 million, one-year deal and can earn $50,000 in performance bonuses. The 26-year-old right-hander had a breakout season in 2008, going 15-8 with a 3.52 ERA in 212 1/3 innings. He made the major league minimum $390,000 last year.

Ross gets $2.25 million next season with a chance for $25,000 in performance bonuses, and Amezaga agreed to a deal worth $1.3 million plus $100,000 in available bonuses.

Florida and All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla did not reach an agreement before players and teams exchanged figures Tuesday. The club said if the sides didn't strike a deal by Tuesday, the case would go to a hearing in February.

Uggla, who made $417,000 last year, asked for $5.35 million in 2009. The team offered $4.4 million.

Right-hander Brad Thompson and the St. Louis Cardinals avoided arbitration when they agreed to a $650,000, one-year contract.

Thompson, who turns 27 on Jan. 31, split time as a starter and reliever last season. He was 6-3 with a 5.15 ERA and spent part of the season at Triple-A Memphis. For his career, Thompson is 19-11 with a 4.24 ERA in 153 games.

His agreement came a day after the team avoided arbitration with two other players, giving pitcher Todd Wellemeyer a $4.05 million, one-year deal and outfielder Chris Duncan an $825,000, one-year contract.

Two St. Louis players remained in arbitration: outfielders Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel.

The Blue Jays agreed to one-year contracts with infielder Jose Bautista and relievers Jason Frasor and Jeremy Accardo, avoiding salary arbitration with all three.

The 28-year-old Bautista gets $2.4 million after combining for 15 home runs and 54 RBIs in 128 games with Pittsburgh and Toronto last year. He batted .238.

Frasor, 31, will make $1.45 million after going 1-2 with a 4.18 ERA in 49 appearances last season.

The 27-year-old Accardo agreed to a $900,000 deal with a chance to earn more in performance bonuses. He appeared in 16 games in 2008 before a forearm injury sidelined him for most of the season.

Relief pitchers Shawn Camp and Brian Tallet are the club's only remaining players in arbitration. Camp asked for $950,000 and was offered $700,000 by the Blue Jays. Tallet requested $1.3 million while the team proposed $950,000.

Relief pitcher Michael Wuertz and the Chicago Cubs agreed on a $1.1 million, one-year contract that avoided salary arbitration.

Wuertz was 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 45 appearances for the Cubs last season. He also spent time at Triple-A Iowa.

The 30-year-old right-hander is 13-7 with one save and a 3.57 ERA in 265 relief appearances since his major league debut with the Cubs in 2004. He has 270 strikeouts in 262 1/3 innings.

Heath Bell, who will replace Trevor Hoffman as the San Diego Padres' closer, avoided arbitration when he agreed to a one-year contract worth $1,255,000.

Bell became San Diego's closer when Hoffman, baseball's career saves leader, agreed to a $6 million, one-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers last week.

Bell appeared in a staff-high 74 games in 2008, going 6-6 with a 3.58 ERA and earning $420,000

He has two career saves. Hoffman has a record 554 saves.

The Minnesota Twins and outfielder Jason Kubel are close to completing a two-year contract.

Kubel said by phone Tuesday that the framework for an agreement was in place, but the deal had not been finalized. General manager Bill Smith said the team was still working on the details.

Kubel must pass a physical for an agreement to be completed. All players in town for the Twins' annual fan fest are scheduled for physicals this weekend.

With a deal, the sides would avoid a salary arbitration hearing. Kubel asked for $3.4 million in arbitration and the team offered $2.4 million. A two-year contract would buy out his final two years of arbitration eligibility.

The 26-year-old Kubel had a career-high 20 homers and 78 RBIs as the team's primary designated hitter last season, when he made $1,312,500. He batted .272.

Minnesota's other player in arbitration is right-handed reliever Matt Guerrier, who asked for $1.75 million and was offered $1.2 million. He made $950,000 last year.

Infielder Clint Barmes, and right-handers Taylor Buchholz and Jason Grilli avoided arbitration by agreeing to one-year contracts with the Colorado Rockies, and third baseman Garrett Atkins submitted a $7.95 million figure after failing to reach a deal.

Colorado officially announced two other one-year agreements, a $4.5 million deal with closer Huston Street and a $2 million contract with left-hander Jorge De La Rosa. Those were agreed to Monday.

Barmes will earn $1,625,000, Buchholz $1,055,000 and Grilli $800,000. Buchholz can earn an additional $50,000 in performance bonuses: $25,000 each for 40 and 50 games finished.

Atkins hit .286 last year with 21 homers and 99 RBIs, and he made $4.44 million. His submission figure was the third-highest behind Philadelphia's Ryan Howard ($14 million) and Milwaukee's Prince Fielder ($8 million). The Rockies offered Atkins $6.65 million

Relief pitcher Chad Qualls and the Arizona Diamondbacks agreed on a $2,535,000, one-year contract that avoided salary arbitration.

Qualls went 4-8 with nine saves and a 2.81 ERA in 2008, his first season with the Diamondbacks. He was acquired from Houston in a deal involving former Arizona closer Jose Valverde, who had 44 saves for the Astros last year.

The only Diamondbacks player remaining in arbitration is first baseman-outfielder Conor Jackson, who asked for $3.65 million and was offered $2.45 million by the club. He made $419,500 last year.

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and the Washington Nationals were $1.15 million apart when they exchanged figures Tuesday for his first time through baseball's arbitration system.

The Nationals traded numbers with four players, including left-hander Scott Olsen and outfielder Josh Willingham, who like Zimmerman are headed to arbitration for the first time.

Zimmerman hit .283 with 14 homers and 51 RBIs in 428 at-bats last season and is hoping to get a raise from $465,000 to $3.9 million. The Nationals submitted a figure of $2.75 million.

Olsen asked for $3.5 million in arbitration; Washington offered $2.5 million. Willingham asked for $3.6 million; Washington offered $2.55 million. Olsen and Willingham, acquired from the Florida Marlins in a trade in November, both earned $405,000 last season.

Right-handed starter Shawn Hill, 1-5 with a 5.83 ERA in 12 starts in 2008, asked for a raise from $402,000 to $775,000, while the Nationals offered $500,000.

Robb Quinlan and the Los Angeles Angels avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year contract worth $1.1 million.

Quinlan hit .262 with one home run and 11 RBIs as a utility player for the Angels last season. His two-run, two-out single in the fifth inning was the decisive hit in the team's AL West-clinching victory over the New York Yankees on Sept. 10.

He has a .285 average with 23 home runs and 105 RBIs in 381 career games with the Angels.

Quinlan can earn an additional $25,000 for 250 plate appearances and $50,000 each for 300 and 350 plate appearances.

A pair of Angels remain in arbitration: right-hander Ervin Santana and shortstop Maicer Izturis.

Santana, who made $445,000 last year, asked for $4,325,000 and was offered $3.6 million. Izturis, who earned $1.2 million last season, proposed $1,885,000 with the team countering at $1.4 million.

Left-hander Jack Taschner and the San Francisco Giants agreed to an $835,000, one-year contract that avoided salary arbitration.

Taschner was the only Giants player eligible for arbitration before agreeing to the deal. He went 3-2 with a 4.88 ERA in a career-high 67 games last season and made $400,500.

All-Star catcher Russell Martin and reliever Jonathan Broxton avoided salary arbitration with the Los Angeles Dodgers by agreeing to one-year contracts.

Martin gets $3.9 million -- a considerable raise from the $500,000 he earned last season.

Broxton accepted a $1,825,000 deal after making $454,000 last year. He can earn an additional $50,000 each for 40, 45, 55 and 60 games finished. The right-hander is expected to become the Dodgers' new closer after Takashi Saito signed a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox.

Martin hit .280 with 13 home runs and 69 RBIs last season while making the NL All-Star team for the second consecutive time.

Broxton was 3-5 with a 3.13 ERA and 14 saves. He had 88 strikeouts in 69 innings.

The only Dodgers player remaining in arbitration is outfielder Andre Ethier, who asked for $3.75 million and was offered $2.65 million.

Information from ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.

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