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Reds avoid arbitration with young stars

Cincinnati Reds: The club avoided arbitration with two of their
cornerstone players on Monday, agreeing to a $4.6 million, one-year
contract with outfielder Adam Dunn and a $930,000 deal with
outfielder Austin Kearns.

The moves left right-hander Ramon Ortiz as the only Reds player
in arbitration. The Reds obtained Ortiz, 31, from the Angels on
Dec. 14 for a minor league pitcher.

Dunn and Kearns were eligible for arbitration for the first
time, putting them in line for large salary increases that the Reds
had factored into their budgeting. Dunn made $445,000 last year and
Kearns got $400,000.

The Reds weren't close to an agreement with Ortiz, who made $3.3
million in the final season of a three-year deal. The Angels had a
2005 option at $5.5 million but bought it out for $100,000 in
November. They then traded him to the Reds, who plan to put him in
their rotation.

Dunn, 25, got the bigger raise because he's been healthy and
more productive than Kearns, 24.

Dunn hit .266 with 46 homers, 102 RBI, 105 runs and 108 walks.
He also set an NL record by striking out 195 times. The 46 homers
rank fourth in franchise history. Kearns missed 84 games during two stints on the disabled list
for a broken forearm and an injured thumb that required surgery.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Gold Glove shortstop Cesar Izturis avoided
arbitration by agreeing to a $9.9 million, three-year
contract.

Izturis, a switch-hitter who turns 25 next month, had by far his
best season last year, hitting .288 with 193 hits, four homers, 62
RBI and 90 runs. Izturis stole 25 bases in 34 attempts and won his
first Gold Glove, committing only 10 errors.

Izturis receives a $300,000 signing bonus and will earn $2.05
million this year, $3.1 million in 2006, and $4.15 million in 2007.

Los Angeles has a 2008 option at $5.85 million with a $300,000
buyout. In addition, Izturis' salary would rise by $150,000 in any
season after he wins a Gold Glove.

Izturis, who made $358,500 last year, has been Los Angeles'
starting shortstop the past three seasons and was eligible for
arbitration for the first time. The Dodgers acquired him from the
Toronto Blue Jays in a four-player trade in December 2001.

Right-handed reliever Eric Gagne, the NL Cy Young Award winner in 2003, and right-handed starter Brad Penny are the two Dodgers
left in arbitration. The players and the team will exchange salary
figures Tuesday, with arbitration hearings scheduled February.

St. Louis Cardinals: Pitcher Jason Marquis, coming off a career-best 15 victories, has agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

Marquis, 26, was 15-7 with a 3.71 ERA last year. He had entered
last season with 14 career victories but none in 2003, when he
spent a major portion of the year at Triple-A Richmond in the
Braves' system.

Marquis won 11 straight decisions from May 31 to Sept. 4, the
longest streak by a Cardinals pitcher since John Tudor also won 11
in a row in 1985.

The contract includes $25,000 bonuses if Marquis pitches 200 and 205 innings and $50,000 each for 210, 215 and 220 innings.

Last year, Marquis threw a career-best 201 1/3 innings.

Left-hander Rick Ankiel is the only remaining Cardinals player
in arbitration.

Atlanta Braves: Shortstop Rafael Furcal agreed to a $5.6 million,
one year deal, and new closer Dan Kolb also avoided arbitration with a $3.4 million contract for
2005.

In addition, the Braves reached a $1.65 million, one-year deal
with reliever Chris Reitsma, another of the five players who filed
for arbitration last week.

Furcal is a key part of the Braves' offense, batting .279 with
14 homers, 59 RBI and 29 stolen bases from the leadoff spot. He
made $3.7 million in 2004.

Kolb was traded to the Braves last month for prized pitching
prospect Jose Capellan and a player to be named. The right-hander
takes over the role filled the last three years by John Smoltz, who
is moving back into Atlanta's starting rotation.

Kolb had 39 saves, a 2.98 ERA and made the All-Star game. To
avoid an arbitration hearing, the Braves more than doubled the
$1,575,000 he earned in his final season with the Brewers.

The Braves have yet to reach deals with two other players who
filed for arbitration: second baseman Marcus Giles and reliever
Kevin Gryboski.

Florida Marlins: Right-hander A.J. Burnett agreed
Monday to a $3.65 million, one-year contract rather than go to
arbitration.

Relievers Guillermo Mota and Tim Spooneybarger also avoided
arbitration by accepting one-year deals.

Last year, Burnett was paid $2.5 million. His new contract
allows him to make $150,000 in performance bonuses: $50,000 each
for 190, 200 and 210 innings pitched.

Mota, expected to be the Marlins' closer, agreed to a $2.6
million deal that allows him to earn $275,000 in performance
bonuses. He received $1,475,000 last year, when he went 9-8 with a
3.07 ERA for Los Angeles and Florida.

Spooneybarger received $350,000, a raise from $305,000 last
year, and can earn $75,000 in performance bonuses. He's hoping to
come back this year from reconstructive elbow surgery that forced
him to miss all of last season.

The only Florida player still in arbitration is right-hander
Josh Beckett.

San Francisco Giants: The club agreed to a $6.1
million, two-year contract with utilityman Pedro Feliz.

The 29-year-old Feliz, considered to be one of the team's key
players for the future, gets a $200,000 signing bonus and will earn
base salaries of $2,225,000 in 2005 and $3,625,000 in 2006. He can
also make an additional $450,000 in bonuses each season based on
plate appearances, and his 2006 salary could rise to as high as
$4.1 million, depending on plate appearances this year.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean and manager Felipe Alou are
committed to trying to find a starting spot for Feliz this year.
They believe he's ready to be an everyday player.

Feliz hit .276 with 22 homers and 84 RBI last season, playing
regularly for the first time, and made $925,000. Alou had promised
him 400 at-bats, but Feliz finished with 503 and Alou sees him as a
600-650 at-bat player who can drive in more than 100 runs a season.

He played 70 games at first base last season, 51 at third, 20 at
shortstop and two each in left and right field.

Catcher Yorvit Torrealba, the final Giants player who was
eligible for arbitration, also agreed to a one-year contract.

Houston Astros: Right-hander Brandon Duckworth has agreed to a $500,000, one-year contract, a raise of $110,000.
Duckworth, 29, was 1-2 with a 6.86 ERA in 19 games last year and is 16-20 with a 5.09 ERA in 64 starts and 20 relief appearances in
parts of four seasons. He was acquired from Philadelphia in 2003
along with right-handers Ezequiel Astacio and Taylor Buchholz for
left-handed reliever Billy Wagner.
In addition to his base salary, Duckworth can earn bonuses.

Baltimore Orioles: Outfielder Luis Matos agreed to a one-year contract worth $1,025,000, a raise of
$50,000.

Matos, 26, batted .224 in 89 games last season. He can earn
additional bonuses of $50,000 each for 450, 500, 550 and 600 plate
appearances.

Five Orioles remain in arbitration: outfielder
Jerry Hairston
Jr. and pitchers Jorge Julio, Rodrigo Lopez, John Parrish and
B.J. Ryan.

Anaheim Angels: Outfielder Jeff DaVanon avoided
arbitration by agreeing to terms of a one-year, $950,000.

DaVanon, a 31-year-old switch-hitter, played in 108 games for
the Angels last season, hitting .277 with seven homers, 34 RBI and
a career-high 18 stolen bases. He had his best season is 2003,
hitting .282 in 123 games with 12 homers and 43 RBI -- all career
highs.

He can also earn an additional $30,000 if he has 350 plate
appearances or plays in 110 games; another $25,000 if he has 400
plate appearances or plays in 120 games, and $20,000 more if he has
450 plate appearances or plays in 130 games.

Catchers Jose Molina and Josh Paul, right-handed reliever Scot Shields and left-handed starter Jarrod Washburn are the four Angels
left in arbitration.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Pitcher Randy Choate
agreed Monday to a $1.3 million, two-year contract.

Choate, 29, was acquired from the Montreal Expos last March and
appeared in a career-high 74 games for Arizona last season. He was
2-4 with a 4.62 ERA in 50 2/3 innings as a left-handed relief
specialist.

Choate will receive $550,000 this coming season and $750,000 in
2006. He earned $325,750 in 2004.

Minnesota Twins: Paul Molitor is returning to Minnesota as a
roving minor-league instructor, the same job he held before a
one-year stint as Seattle's hitting coach.
The Mariners struggled offensively and lost 99 games last year,
and the coaching staff was let go when manager Bob Melvin was
fired.
Molitor will be responsible for coordinating the baserunning and
infield instruction within the Twins' minor league system. The
48-year-old Hall of Famer, who spent 21 seasons in the majors with
Milwaukee, Toronto and Minnesota, is a native of St. Paul.

Washington Nationals: Former major league infielder Tim Foli has
been hired as the Triple-A Zephyrs' new manager, the New Orleans team said.
Foli has coached with several major league teams, including
Milwaukee and Cincinnati. The Reds fired Foli as third base coach
in the 2003 season.
Foli played 16 years in the majors, for the Mets,
Montreal, Pittsburgh and the California Angels. He played
shortstop for the 1979 World Series champion Pirates, hitting .333
with 10 hits and three RBI in the final series. Foli was drafted by the
Mets as the top pick in 1968.
He replaces Chris Maloney, the Zephyrs coach 2002-04.
The Zephyrs also hired Mike Hart as hitting coach and Charlie
Corbell as pitching coach. Both were with the AAA Edmonton Trappers
last season.
The Zephyrs are Washington's Triple-A affiliate.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.