Second go-around: Mets, Valentin finalize new deal

NEW YORK -- On the same day they agreed on a new two-year deal with right-hander Orlando Hernandez, the New York Mets finalized a $3.8 million, one-year contract with second baseman Jose Valentin on Tuesday.

Valentin's deal includes a $4.3 million team option for 2008 that would become guaranteed if he has 400 plate appearances next year.

"We're happy to get both these guys. These guys were a big part of our team this year," said Minaya, who put together a $12 million, two-year contract for Hernandez. "The fact that we have these two players on board, we pretty much have most of our team intact going into next year."

Valentin is coming off a resurgent season, when he batted .271 with 18 homers and 62 RBI. His consistent production and steady defense made him a big surprise after he took over the everyday job at second base.

Minaya said he's comfortable going into next season with the 37-year-old Valentin as the team's starter at second again, but the GM said that wouldn't stop him from exploring the market for infielders. He said Valentin would get plenty of at-bats next season -- no matter where he plays.

"He gives me a lot of versatility," Minaya said. "He protects me up the middle. He protects me in other areas. I can go in the marketplace knowing that I don't have to do something."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.