Phillies' Hamels highlights arbitration deadline signings

Left-hander Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies agreed on a one-year, $15-million US contract Tuesday, headlining a slew of deals struck on the file day for major-league teams and players to exchange salary figures before heading to arbitration.
Cole Hamels finished fifth in Cy Young Award voting last year. (Jeff Roberson/Associated Press)

Left-hander Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies agreed on a one-year, $15-million US contract Tuesday, headlining a slew of one-year deals struck on the file day for major-league teams and players to exchange salary figures before heading to arbitration.

The 2008 World Series MVP went 14-9 with a 2.79 ERA in 32 games last year. Hamels was selected to his second career all-star Game and finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award voting.   

The Phillies also avoided arbitration with infielder Wilson Valdez, agreeing to a $930,000, one-year deal.

Jays strike deals with 3 players

The Toronto Blue Jays avoided arbitration with right-hander Carlos Villanueva, second baseman Kelly Johnson and outfielder Ben Francisco, signing all three to one-year deals.

Johnson will make $6.375 million US in 2012 while Villanueva gets just under $2.3 million and Francisco receives $1.537 million.

The 28-year-old Villanueva appeared in 33 games — including 13 starts — with Toronto last year. He posted a 6-4 record and 4.04 earned-run average.

The Dominican Republic native is a career 26-28 with a 4.28 ERA in 263 games — including 40 starts — with Milwaukee and Toronto.

Johnson was acquired Aug. 23 from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He posted a .270 average with three home runs and nine RBIs with Toronto.

The 29-year-old Texan has a .260 average with a .343 on-base percentage and .441 slugging percentage in 791 games with Atlanta, Arizona and Toronto.

Red Sox re-up Ellsbury, Aviles

The Red Sox agreed to terms with outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and infielder Mike Aviles on one-year, non-guaranteed contracts, avoiding salary arbitration.

Ellsbury, 28, was named the American League Comeback Player of the Year and finished second in AL MVP voting after a breakout season. He hit .321 and set career highs with 46 doubles, 32 home runs, 119 runs, 105 RBIs and 52 walks in 158 games. He led the majors with 364 total bases and 83 extra-base hits. Selected by the Red Sox in the 2005 first round, Ellsbury has a .301 career average.

Aviles, 30, was acquired by Boston from Kansas City on July 30, 2011 and hit .317 in 38 games. He played third base, shortstop, second base, right and left field.

Upton, Price right for Rays

Centre-fielder B.J. Upton and pitchers David Price and Burke Badenhop have agreed to one-year contracts with the Tampa Bay Rays, avoiding arbitration.

The deals reached before Tuesday's deadline for teams and players to exchange salary proposals will pay Upton $7 million, Price's $4.35 million and Badenhop $1,075,000 next season.

Upton earned $4.85 million last year, when he batted .243 with 23 homers and 81 RBI's. A two-time all-star, Price made $1.5 million while going 12-13 with a 3.49 earned-run average. Badenhop was acquired in a trade this winter after the reliever went 2-3 with a 4.10 ERA in 50 appearances for the Florida Marlins.

Reliever J.P. Howell agreed to a $1.35 million, one-year contract on Monday.

The agreements left pitcher Jeff Niemann as the team's only player in arbitration.

Yankees give Joba a raise

Relievers Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson agreed to one-year contracts with the New York Yankees.

Chamberlain, recovering from elbow ligament replacement surgery, gets $1,675,000, up from $1.4 million last year.

Robertson, who became an All-Star as Mariano Rivera's setup man in a breakout season, will earn $1.6 million, an increase from $460,450. He can make an additional $25,000 in performance bonuses.

Both deals are not guaranteed.

Chamberlain went 2-0 with a 2.83 ERA in 27 relief appearances before surgery on June 16.

Robertson was 4-0 with one save and a 1.08 ERA in a team-high 70 relief appearances.

K-Rod takes pay cut

The Milwaukee Brewers and reliever Francisco Rodriguez agreed to a one-year, $8-million deal to avoid arbitration.  

Rodriguez, who had an $11.5-million salary last year, can make $625,000 in performance bonuses based on games finished: $125,000 each for 15, 20 and 25, and $250,000 for 30.

He arrived in Milwaukee in a trade with the New York Mets in July and pitched primarily in a setup role for Brewers closer John Axford. He made 31 appearances for the Brewers, going 4-0 with a 1.86 ERA.

Overall last season, Rodriguez was 6-2 with a 2.64 ERA. He had 23 saves, all with the Mets.

Rodriguez could have pursued free agent opportunities as a closer in the off-season, but instead accepted the Brewers' arbitration offer. Rodriguez has 291 saves.

Dodgers reach terms with Ethier, Loney

Andre Ethier and James Loney agreed to one-year contracts with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ethier agreed at $10.95 million and Loney at $6,375,000.

Either was coming off a two-year, $15.25-million contract that paid him $9.25 million last season, when he hit .292 with 11 homers and 62 RBIs and earned his first Gold Glove in the outfield. The two-time All-star had a 30-game hitting streak early in the season but was bothered by a right knee injury and had surgery in September.

He also can earn $50,000 in performance bonuses: $25,000 each for 600 and 625 plate appearances. He is eligible for free agency after this season, as is Loney.

Loney made $4,875,000 last year, when he struggled early before having a solid second half. The first baseman hit .288 with 12 homers and 65 RBIs.

Loney was arrested in November on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol after his Maserati hit three cars on a Los Angeles freeway, although no charges have been filed.

Indians sign Choo, 3 pitchers

Outfielder Shin Soo-Choo's troubled 2011 season with the Cleveland Indians still earned him a raise.

Choo and the club agreed to a one-year, $4.9 million US contract. The 29-year-old South Korean made $3.975 million last season, when he batted .259 with eight homers and 36 RBIs in 85 games. He also had two lengthy stints on the disabled list.

In 2010, Choo was the only AL player to hit .300 with at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases.

Choo also was arrested last season on driving under the influence charges and he missed six weeks after surgery to repair a broken thumb. He ended the season on the DL with a strained side muscle.

Right-hander Justin Masterson and the Cleveland Indians also avoided arbitration with a one-year contract agreement.

Masterson, the Indians' most consistent starter last year, will make $3.85 million US in 2012. He made $468,400 last season.

Masterson had a breakout season in 2011, going 12-10 with a 3.21 earned-run average. He also led the Indians with 158 strikeouts and 33 starts. The hard-throwing 26-year-old, who was acquired in 2009 from Boston, was just 6-13 in 2010. However, he opened 5-0 last season and developed into their ace before the club traded for Ubaldo Jimenez.

All-star closer Chris Perez and the Cleveland Indians have also locked up a one-year contract.

Perez, who had 36 saves last season, will make $4.5 million US in 2012. He earned $2.25 million last season, when he developed into one of the American League's premier finishers.

The 26-year-old had 36 saves in 40 tries, ending the year with a save in his final nine chances.

Also, the Indians agreed to terms with set-up man Joe Smith on a one-year deal worth $1.75 million. He made $850,000 in 2011.

Smith went 3-3 with a 2.01 earned-run average in 71 games.

Braves re-sign Bourn, Jurrjens, O'Flaherty

The Atlanta Braves avoided arbitration Tuesday, agreeing to one-year deals with outfielder Michael Bourn for $6.845 million, starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens for $5.5 million and reliever Eric O'Flaherty for $2.49 million.

The agreements were reached just before teams and players exchanged figures for arbitration hearings.

Bourn, who got a raise from $4.4 million, was acquired from Houston in July just ahead of the trade deadline. He led the NL in stolen bases for the third straight year with 61 and provided the Braves with a much-needed leadoff hitter. Barring a long-term deal, he can become a free agent after the 2012 season.

Jurrjens, who made $3.25 million last season, was selected for his first All-Star game and went 13-6 with a 2.96 ERA. But he barely pitched in the second half because of a knee injury that required surgery, and he's been mentioned frequently in trade talks with the Braves having a surplus of top pitching prospects.

O'Flaherty is a key member of the bullpen with Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters. The left-hander received a significant raise from his $895,000 salary after the best year of his career, a dominating 0.98 ERA in 78 appearances.

With all arbitration-eligible players now under contract, the Braves are likely to have a payroll of around $80 million if they stick with the current roster. They also owe $10 million of Derek Lowe's salary, even though he was dealt to Cleveland, which means total obligations will be right around last season's $91 million.

Mariners ink lefty Vargas

The Seattle Mariners and left-handed starter Jason Vargas agreed to a one-year, $4.5-million deal.

Seattle also reached one-year deals with closer Brandon League and reliever Shawn Kelley.

Vargas made a career-high 32 starts in 2011, going 10-13 with a 4.25 ERA. He started the season strong and was 6-5 with a 3.57 ERA through his first 17 starts, capped by a complete-game shutout against San Diego on July 1.

But Vargas dropped his next five decisions, although he was given very little run support. Vargas did close the season with three straight victories.

Vargas has spent the last three seasons with Seattle. He's 22-31 with a 4.19 ERA in 86 games, 77 starts, since joining the Mariners in 2009. With the departure of Michael Pineda to the New York Yankees through a trade, Vargas is likely to be the No. 2 starter in Seattle's rotation when the season begins.

League assumed the closer role full-time for the Mariners in 2011 and finished the year with 37 saves and was named to the all-star team. League appeared in 65 games and had a 1-5 record with a 2.79 ERA.

Kelley missed most of last season after having partial Tommy John surgery during the 2010 season. Kelley appeared in 10 games at the major league level and gave up no runs and seven hits in 12 2/3 innings. In the minors, Kelley was 1-1 with a 1.53 ERA in 15 starts.

Cabrera, Giants avoid arbitration

A person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press that outfielder Melky Cabrera and the San Francisco Giants agreed to a one-year, $6 million contract.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been announced.

Cabrera hit .305 with 44 doubles, 18 homers and 87 RBIs for Kansas City last year, then was traded to the Giants in November for left-hander Jonathan Sanchez.

The 27-year-old Cabrera was let go by Atlanta following a poor 2010 season and signed a $1.25 million contract with the Royals, earning another $250,000 in bonuses for plate appearances.

Rockies, Fowler ink 1-year deal

Speedy outfielder Dexter Fowler has agreed to a one-year deal with the Colorado Rockies to avoid arbitration.

Terms of the deals announced Tuesday haven't been released.  

Fowler has been a pitcher's best friend patrolling centre field, tracking down numerous fly balls into the deepest parts of spacious Coors Field. He also had a solid season at the plate after rebounding from a slow start, hitting .266 with five homers and 45 RBIs.

The switch-hitting Fowler had 15 triples in 2011 to break his own team mark.

On Sunday, the Rockies agreed to a one-year, $2,415,000 deal with outfielder Seth Smith to avoid arbitration. The team then turned around and traded him to the Oakland Athletics the next day for right-hander Guillermo Moscoso along with lefty Josh Outman.

Still no deal for Rangers, Darvish

With the deadline looming to complete a deal with Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, the Texas Rangers on Tuesday agreed to terms on contracts with two right-handed relievers while some of their top pitching prospects worked out at Rangers Ballpark during a winter camp.

The Rangers avoided salary arbitration by reaching deals with relievers Mike Adams and Mark Lowe, and outfielder David Murphy.

The two-time defending AL champions were also working to finish a multiyear deal with Darvish before their 30-day negotiating window ends Wednesday at 4 p.m. CST. Texas last month bid a record US$51.7 million under the posting system to win the right just to negotiate with the 25-year-old Darvish from the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan's Pacific League.

"We'll see if [Wednesday] is Christmas or not," Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux said Tuesday.

General manager Jon Daniels wasn't on the field or in the clubhouse during pitching camp Tuesday, and didn't return messages.

On the day when teams and players exchanged salary arbitration figures, the Rangers gave raises to Adams ($4.4 million), Lowe (1.7 million) and Murphy ($3.625 million).

The other arbitration-eligible Rangers were left-hander Matt Harrison, catcher Mike Napoli, infielder Elvis Andrus and outfielder Nelson Cruz.

Twins reach agreements with Liriano, Perkins

The Minnesota Twins have agreed to one-year contracts with left-handers Francisco Liriano and Glen Perkins, avoiding arbitration with both players.

Liriano will make $5.5 million US this season to lead the rotation, up from $4.3 million in 2011. Perkins will get $1.55 million this year to be the primary setup man, a raise from the $700,000 he made last season.

The deals were done on Tuesday, when teams exchanged proposed 2012 salaries with their arbitration-eligible players.

Twins second baseman Alexi Casilla is also eligible for arbitration, but the two sides can continue to negotiate a contract before the case goes to a hearing next month. The Twins offered $1,065,000 and Casilla asked for $1.75 million. He was paid $865,000 last year.

Karstens gets raise from Pirates

Right-hander Jeff Karstens and the Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to a $3.1 million, one-year contract, a raise from his $1.15 million earnings last year.

The 29-year-old went 9-9 with a 3.38 ERA in 2011, posting career highs in wins, strikeouts (72) and innings (162 1-3). His deal avoided salary arbitration.

Karstens was among the league leaders in ERA into August before tailing off toward the end of the season, losing four of his last five decisions while having several starts skipped due to fatigue.

The Pirates also reached agreement with right-handed reliever Evan Meek on Tuesday. The deal will pay Meek $875,000, a significant bump from the $461,500 he made in 2011. Meek was All-Star in 2010 but was limited by injuries last season, going 1-1 with a 3.48 ERA in 24 appearances.

Royals, Sanchez, Hochevar reach terms

The Royals agreed to one-year contracts with pitchers Jonathan Sanchez, Luke Hochevar and Felipe Paulino along with reserve outfielder Mitch Maier on Tuesday, leaving outfielder Alex Gordon as the only remaining player in arbitration.

The Royals are hopeful of signing Gordon to a long-term deal.

Sanchez will get $5.6 million and is eligible for up to $200,000 in bonuses after arriving in an off-season trade that sent outfielder Melky Cabrera to San Francisco. Hochevar will make $3.51 million, Paulino is in line for $1.9 million and Maier will make $865,000, not counting performance bonuses.

Padres reach deals with 9 players

The San Diego Padres have come to terms on contracts with catchers Nick Hundley and John Baker and seven other arbitration-eligible players.

Hundley hit a career-best .288 last season with a career-high nine home runs and 29 RBIs. He underwent surgery on his right elbow in July.

The 31-year-old Baker missed most of the 2011 season due to surgery on his right elbow in September 2010. He was acquired in an offseason trade with the Marlins in exchange for left-handed pitcher Wade LeBlanc.

Other players coming to terms with the Padres for 2012 were: right-handed pitchers Luke Gregerson, Tim Stauffer and Edinson Volquez; left-handed pitcher Joe Thatcher; infielder Chase Headley and outfielders Carlos Quentin and Will Venable.

Reds, Bailey agree to 1-year deal

Right-hander Homer Bailey agreed to a one-year, US$2,425,000 contract on Tuesday, avoiding salary arbitration with the Cincinnati Reds.

Bailey is coming off his best season, setting career highs in starts, wins, innings and strikeouts despite two stints on the disabled list because of shoulder problems in 2010. He went 9-7 with a 4.43 earned run average in 22 starts with 106 strikeouts in 132 innings.

Bailey made $441,000 last year. He can make an additional $75,000 in performance bonuses in his new deal. Bailey will be competing for a spot in the back of a rotation featuring Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Bronson Arroyo.

The Reds failed to reach deals with right-handed relievers Jose Arredondo and Nick Masset, who exchanged arbitration figures with the team.

A's settle with McCarthy, Devine to avoid arbitration

The Oakland Athletics agreed to one-year contracts with right-handers Brandon McCarthy and Joey Devine on Tuesday, avoiding arbitration.

They were the final two arbitration-eligible players on Oakland's roster.

McCarthy became a reliable starter after earning the fifth spot in the rotation. He went 9-9 with a 3.32 ERA in 25 starts.

He posted career highs in wins, starts, complete games (five), innings pitched (170 2-3) and strikeouts (123). His 123 strikeouts to 25 walks set an A's record for strikeout-to-walk ratio at 4.92.

Devine returned after missing the 2009 and '10 seasons recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery. Called up from triple-A Sacramento on May 20, he went 1-1 with a 3.52 ERA in 26 relief appearances before going back to the minors.

6 players settle with Cubs, Garza still in arbitration

The Chicago Cubs have reached one-year deals with six players, leaving starting pitcher Matt Garza as their only remaining player in arbitration.

The Cubs announced agreements for infielders Jeff Baker, Blake Dewitt and Ian Stewart, catcher Geovany Soto and right-handed pitchers Chris Volstad and Randy Wells on Tuesday. Volstad was acquired in a trade with Miami on Jan. 5.

Garza went 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA in his first season with Chicago. He asked for $12.5 million in arbitration and the Cubs countered at $7.95 million.

Young, Scherzer, Kelly rejoin Tigers on 1-year deals

The Detroit Tigers have agreed to contract terms with outfielder Delmon Young, right-hander Max Scherzer and utilityman Don Kelly, avoiding arbitration with all three.

The team announced the one-year deals Tuesday. Young gets $6,725,000; Scherzer agreed at $3.75 million; and Kelly receives $900,000.

Young hit .274 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs in 40 games with Detroit after being acquired in an August trade. He also hit five home runs in 34 post-season at-bats for the Tigers.

Scherzer started 33 games in 2011, going 15-9 with a 4.43 ERA.

Kelly made starts at first base, third base and all three outfield positions last year. He also caught a few innings and even pitched at the end of a blowout. Kelly hit .245 with seven homers.

The Tigers do not have any players left in arbitration.

Nats' Zimmermann, Gorzelanny and Clippard ditch arbitration

Nationals pitchers Jordan Zimmermann, Tom Gorzelanny and Tyler Clippard have agreed to one-year contracts with the team, avoiding arbitration.

Zimmermann's deal is for $2.3 million, while Gorzelanny gets $3 million. The value of Clippard's contract wasn't immediately known Tuesday.

Zimmermann, a right-hander, is expected to be Washington's No. 3 starter in 2012. Coming off right elbow surgery, he went 8-11 with a 3.18 ERA last season.

Clippard made the All-Star team as a setup man last year, when the right-hander finished 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA in 72 appearances. Gorzelanny, a lefty, is slated for the bullpen this season.

Two players exchanged arbitration figures with the Nationals: pitcher John Lannan asked for $5.7 million and was offered $5 million, while outfielder Michael Morse requested $5 million and was offered $3.5 million.