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Thoughts, news and notes from the sports staff of The Saratogian newspaper, located in historic Saratoga Springs, New York. The gang in the corner office on Lake Avenue give you the post-game wrap-ups, news and notes from the games we cover and opinions about the sports we read about every day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

ATBATW: A look at the day's signings around Major League Baseball; Fielder, Lincecum, Colon, Morrow, Betemit

Around the Block, Around the World: Baseball Edition
All stories compiled by the Associated Press

Fielder, Tigers agree to 9-year deal
DETROIT — Free agent first baseman Prince Fielder and the Detroit Tigers agreed Tuesday on a nine-year, $214 million contract that fills the AL Central champions’ need for a power hitter, a person familiar with the deal said.
CBS first reported the agreement.
The person told the Associated Press that the deal was subject to a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract was not yet complete.
Detroit boldly stepped up in the Fielder sweepstakes after the recent knee injury to star Victor Martinez. A week ago, the Tigers announced that the productive designated hitter could miss the entire season after tearing his left ACL.
The Tigers won their division by 15 games before losing in the AL championship series to Texas. Adding Fielder gives the Tigers two of the game’s premier sluggers, pairing him with Miguel Cabrera.
The move also keeps Fielder’s name in the Tigers’ family. His father, Cecil, became a big league star when he returned to the majors from Japan and hit 51 home runs with Detroit in 1990. Cecil played with the Tigers into the 1996 season.
Several teams had shown interest this winter in the 27-year-old Fielder, who had spent his entire career with Milwaukee. He visited Texas, and the Washington Nationals also got involved in the discussions.
The beefy slugger hit .299 with 38 home runs and 120 RBIs last season. He is a three-time All-Star and was the MVP of last year’s event in Phoenix.
Fielder has averaged 40 homers and 113 RBIs over the past five years. He’s also been among the most durable players in the majors, appearing in at least 157 games in each of the last six seasons.
The deal is only the fourth $200 million contract in baseball history, following Alex Rodriguez’s $275 million, 10-year contract with the New York Yankees, A-Rod’s $252 million, 10-year deal with Texas and Albert Pujols’ $240 million, 10-year contract last month with the Los Angeles Angels.
Among current players, his $23.78 million average salary is behind only A-Rod ($27.5 million), Ryan Howard ($25 million), and Cliff Lee and Pujols ($24 million each).
Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski said last week he felt finding a replacement for Martinez was a short-term problem, but he left himself some wriggle room, saying it depended who the player was.
Acquiring Fielder opens all sorts of possibilities, such as moving Cabrera to third base or having one of the two sluggers be the designated hitter.

Lincecum, Giants agree to 2-year deal 
SAN FRANCISCO — Two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants reached a verbal agreement Tuesday on a two-year contract worth $40.5 million.
The deal includes a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $18 million this year and $22 million in 2013, a person familiar with the agreement said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the terms were not announced.
Lincecum had asked for a near-record $21.5 million in salary arbitration and had been offered $17 million by the club. He remains eligible for free agency following the 2013 season.
The 27-year-old right-hander, the winning pitcher in the Game 5 World Series clincher at Texas in 2010, earned $13.1 million last season when he completed a two-year deal worth $23.2 million.
When the sides exchanged numbers last Tuesday, Lincecum’s request neared the record amount sought in arbitration. Houston pitcher Roger Clemens asked for $22 million in 2005.
San Francisco’s offer was the highest in arbitration history, topping the $14.25 million the New York Yankees proposed for shortstop Derek Jeter in 2001.
As Giants vice president Bobby Evans expected, they found common ground around the midpoint of the figures — and did so in only a week.
San Francisco’s front office had hoped to lock up Lincecum and fellow starter Matt Cain with long-term deals, though Lincecum seemed set on keeping his options open in the near future on a shorter contract. A call to the pitcher was not immediately returned and his agent declined to comment.
With Lincecum earning a hefty contract, Evans joked last week, “I usually leave off the final three zeroes because it’s easier to calculate.”
In February 2010, Lincecum agreed to a $23 million, two-year contract ahead of the scheduled hearing. He had been set at that time to ask for $13 million.
That last contract was quite a raise for the undersized, hard-throwing pitcher his teammates call “Franchise” and “Freak” after he earned $650,000 in 2009.
Lincecum — the 10th overall draft pick out of Washington in 2006 — has been an All-Star in each of the past four seasons. He went 13-14 with a 2.74 ERA last year for his first losing record. The Giants scored no runs while he was in the game in seven of 33 starts, had one run six times and two runs five times, according to STATS LLC.
San Francisco, which sold out every game in 2011 but missed the playoffs, will have a payroll of around $130 million.

Morrow and Blue Jays agree to $21M, 3-year deal
TORONTO — Pitcher Brandon Morrow and the Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a $21 million, three-year contract that avoided salary arbitration.
Morrow gets $4 million this year and $8 million in each of the following two seasons. Toronto has a $10 million option for 2015 with a $1 million buyout.
The 27-year-old Morrow was 11-11 last season with a 4.72 ERA.
But the right-hander also set career highs in wins (11), innings (179 1-3) and strikeouts (203).
On Monday, the Jays announced the signing of 44-year-old infielder Omar Vizquel to a minor league contract.

A’s agree to terms with right-hander Bartolo Colon
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Oakland Athletics and free agent right-hander Bartolo Colon have agreed to terms on a one-year contract.
The team made the announcement Tuesday. The sides had an agreement last week pending a physical.
The 38-year-old Colon, a former A’s nemesis during his four-year stint with the AL West rival Angels from 2004-07, went 8-10 with a 4.00 ERA in 29 appearances and 26 starts last year for the New York Yankees in his 14th big league season. He won the 2005 AL Cy Young Award.
Last month, the A’s traded away starter Trevor Cahill to Arizona and All-Star lefty Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals. Oakland sent All-Star closer Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox on Dec. 28.
He is 5-1 with a 2.14 ERA in seven appearances at the Coliseum.

Orioles sign Betemit to two-year contract
BALTIMORE — Infielder Wilson Betemit and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a two-year, $3.25 million contract.
The Orioles announced the deal with the free agent Tuesday and say it includes a vesting option for 2014.
Betemit will receive a $500,000 signing bonus and earn $1 million this season and $1.75 million in 2013. The option for 2014 becomes guaranteed if he has a combined 7000 plate appearances over the first two seasons.
The switch-hitting Betemit batted .285 with eight homers and 46 RBIs in 97 games for Kansas City and Detroit last season. In nine big league seasons with six teams, Betemit has hit .269 with 63 homers and 243 RBIs.
To make room for Betemit on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated RHP Rick VandenHurk for assignment.

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