Soriano agrees to one-year deal with Yankees

NEW YORK -- All-Star second baseman Alfonso Soriano agreed
to a $5.4 million, one-year contract with the New York Yankees on
Tuesday, avoiding salary arbitration.

Soriano was eligible for arbitration for the first time. He made
$800,000 last year, when the Yankees renewed his contract.

Soriano's stats slipped somewhat last season, when he batted
.290 with 38 homers, 91 RBI and 35 steals. In 2002, he hit .300
with 39 homers, 102 RBI and 41 steals.

A free swinger, he cut his strikeouts from 157 in 2002 to 135
last year, but he hit just .130 (4-for-30) in the AL Championship
Series against Boston and .227 (5-for-22) in the World Series loss
to Florida. Manager Joe Torre even benched him before Game 5 of the
World Series.

Soriano, an All-Star in each of the last two seasons, is
eligible for free agency after the 2005 season.

He made 19 errors last season, prompting speculation that the
Yankees might try to move him to the outfield. But during the
offseason, New York signed free-agent outfielders Gary Sheffield
and Kenny Lofton.

Left-hander Gabe White, who became a free agent after the season
and then accepted the Yankees' arbitration offer last month, asked
for $2.7 million and was offered $1,825,000.