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Saturday, January 20, 2007

After figure swaps, eight come to terms- MLB.com

The great thing about salary-arbitration is that many greedy players don't receive what they filed for. They are still getting a plethora of money, but at least they receive a little less than they though they deserved.

Two weeks remain before salary hearings set to start
By Jim Street / MLB.com

It's eight down, 48 to go.

That was the tally late Friday night, heading into the first weekend after salary-arbitration figures were exchanged.

Three of the players reaching contract agreements since Tuesday's salary-figure exchange landed multiyear contracts:

• Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Doug Davis -- acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers along with outfielder Dave Krynzel and pitcher Dana Eveland for catcher Johnny Estrada, pitcher Claudio Vargas and reliever Greg Aquino -- signed a three-year, $22 million contract.

• Seattle Mariners closer J.J. Putz signed a three-year, $13.1 million deal that includes a fourth-year club option.

• Cleveland Indians outfielder Jason Michaels received a two-year, $4.25 million contract.

Five others received one-year contracts. Brewers pitcher Chris Capuano avoided the final step of salary arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $3.25 million offer (he filed for $3.7 million), Pirates pitcher Shawn Chacon, who filed for $4.25 million, signed a one-year deal for $3.825 million; Cleveland Indians pitcher Jason Davis agreed to a one-year deal, for $670,000; Oakland Athletics pitcher Kirk Saarloos avoided a hearing by accepting a one-year offer on Friday, as did Brewers infielder Tony Graffanino.

Less than two weeks remain before the first hearing before a three-member panel is held. Among the players still headed in that direction are reigning American League Most Valuable Player Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins teammate and AL batting champion Joe Mauer, and National League batting champ Freddy Sanchez, of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

But if the past few years are indicative of things to come, most of the 49 arbitration-eligible players still unsigned should be in their respective folds before Feb. 1 -- the first day of hearings. Of the 43 players who exchanged salaries with their clubs last season, only six reached the hearing stage.

Several more multiyear deals are bound to be worked out in the coming days as clubs and players attempt to work things out well before Spring Training camps open in Florida and Arizona in mid-February.

But Davis and Putz can relax for a few years.

"We believe that trading for Doug and signing him to a three-year contract improves and stabilizes our rotation," D-backs general manager Josh Byrnes said. "It is challenging to acquire and retain quality starting pitching, and this is an important step for us to build a playoff-caliber rotation."

Davis, 31, filed for $7.5 million, and the organization offered $5.25 million. He made $3.6 million last year, when he went 11-11 with a 4.91 ERA in 34 starts over 203 1/3 innings pitched, marking his third consecutive 200-plus-inning season.

Arizona projects Davis to be the No. 4 starter, behind reigning Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb, five-time Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson and veteran right-hander Livan Hernandez.

Davis has made 103 starts the past three seasons, second only in the Majors behind only Hernandez (104).

Putz finishes games.

"J.J. Putz was one of the great stories of the 2006 baseball season," Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said. "He took over the closer's role and was simply dominant. When he was called on, he really thrived in that ninth-inning pressure."

Putz saved 36 games last season despite not taking over the job until the first week of May.

"J.J. was just nails for us last season," manager Mike Hargrove said. "One of the things I really admired was his willingness to take the ball whenever we needed him to."

Putz led all AL relievers with 104 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings, and walked only 13 batters while pitching in a career-high 72 games.

"I don't know what it is, but the ninth inning is definitely different," Putz said. "I think there's something with the energy in the stadium. I live for that. I think that it's the best thing in the world. For some reason, those are three hard outs to get."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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