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Right-hander gets three years, $13.1M

NEW ORLEANS -- The Toronto Blue Jays kept revamping their rotation, agreeing with free agent Miguel Batista on a $13.1 million, three-year contract Friday.

The deal was the first one announced at the baseball winter
meetings, which started earlier in the day and run through Monday.

Since the season ended, Toronto has signed free-agent starters
Pat Hentgen and Batista and traded for Ted Lilly. The Blue Jays
also lost Kelvim Escobar as a free agent to Anaheim.

Batista was 10-9 with a 3.54 ERA for Arizona last season. He
pitched in 36 games, making 29 starts.

Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi said he had targeted several pitchers
throughout the season. Once Batista became available, the Blue Jays
made their move.

"We tried to force it along," Ricciardi said. "We didn't want
it to linger and linger and have other teams get involved."

The 32-year-old right-hander joins a Toronto team that has
finished third in the AL East for six straight years. The Blue Jays
went 86-76 this season, led by Cy Young winner Roy Halladay.

Batista was 42-50 with a 4.39 ERA in nine seasons. He also has
pitched for Pittsburgh, Florida, the Chicago Cubs, Montreal and
Kansas City.

"He'll be a good No. 2 (starter) for us," Ricciardi said. "He competes, number one, he takes
the ball, he's going to give you 180-200 innings... We got a
good player, we got him at a good price and I think everybody's
happy."

In seven career postseason games, all with the Diamondbacks in
2001-02, he is 3-1 with a 3.54 ERA.

Batista will make $3.6 million next season, $4.75 million in
2005 and $4.75 million in 2006.

The New York Mets were among the other teams interested in
Batista, who has bounced back and forth between the rotation and
bullpen throughout his career. Of his 254 games in the majors, 121
of them have been starts. Despite all those relief appearances, he
has only one lifetime save.

Hentgen, the 1996 AL Cy Young winner with Toronto, signed a $2.2
million, one-year contract. Lilly was acquired from Oakland for
outfielder Bobby Kielty.

The Blue Jays also signed lefty Bruce Chen to a minor league
contract.