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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Jays lock up Overbay- MLB.com

The Blue Jays continue to make smart financial decisions. The re-signing of Vernon Wells earlier this off season might have seemed too expensive, but based on this years market the Jays did not over pay.

Likewise, the signing of Overbay should be looked upon as a bargain when you compare him to other big leaguers who were showered with money that they did not deserve. Overbay is a diligent player who will give his all to see that Toronto succeeds.

Deal cements first baseman in Toronto through 2010
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have lured another player away from the temptation of free agency. A Major League source told MLB.com on Sunday that Toronto has signed first baseman Lyle Overbay to a four-year deal worth $24 million.

Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi has previously expressed an interest in locking up Overbay with a multiyear deal, which would last beyond the first baseman's arbitration years. Overbay would have been eligible to become a free agent after the 2008 season, but the new deal would keep him with the Jays through 2010.

When reached by phone on Sunday, Ricciardi said that the two sides "were working on something," but he would neither confirm nor deny that an agreement was in place. An official announcement is expected to come in the next day or two, according to the source.

Overbay will make $4.2 million in 2007, including $3.8 million paid as a signing bonus. He is then scheduled to make $5.8 million in 2008 and $7 million in 2009 and 2010. The contracts for Ricciardi and pitchers Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett and B.J. Ryan also end with the 2010 season.

Overbay, who made $2.525 million in 2006 in his first season with Toronto, was acquired in a five-player trade with Milwaukee in December 2005. At the Winter Meetings that year, the Jays sent Dave Bush, Gabe Gross and Zach Jackson to the Brewers in exchange for Overbay and Ty Taubenheim.

Overbay thrived in Toronto's potent lineup and turned in arguably his best season. In a team-high 157 games, the left-handed hitter posted a .312 average and set new career highs with 22 home runs, 92 RBIs and 181 hits. He also clubbed a team-high 46 doubles, which ranked fourth in the American League. Since 2003, Overbay has the most doubles (133) in the Major Leagues.

Outfielders Reed Johnson and Alex Rios, as well as pitcher Scott Downs, are the remaining Jays eligible for arbitration. Ricciardi has yet to go to arbitration with a player in his tenure as Toronto's GM. The last time the Blue Jays went to arbitration was with pitcher Bill Risley in 1997.

Jordan Bastian 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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