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Monday, March 17
Updated: March 18, 4:02 PM ET
 
Deals for each player reach $14M mark

Associated Press

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Moving to keep two of their top young players, the Toronto Blue Jays agreed Monday to five-year contracts with center fielder Vernon Wells and third baseman Eric Hinske.

Hinske, the American League's Rookie of the Year last season, is guaranteed $14.75 million. Wells is guaranteed $14.7 million.

"It was a two-month process for us,'' general manager J.P. Riccardi said. "We have two quality players and people here to lay a foundation for the future.''

Wells, Toronto's first-round draft pick in 1997, hit .275 last year with 23 homers and 100 RBI.

"Both of us together are going to take this team to the next level,'' Wells said. "Both of us are here now to be leaders on this team and lead it to the next level.''

Hinske was acquired from Oakland with right-hander Justin Miller for Billy Koch on Dec. 7, 2001.

"I love the city of Toronto,'' Hinske said. "Now I just can worry about what goes on on the field.''

Hinske hit .279 with 24 homers and 84 RBI last year. He made 20 errors at third, but only five after the All-Star break.




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