Santana avoids arbitration with Angels

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Ervin Santana and the Los Angeles Angels agreed to a four-year contract worth about $30 million on Saturday, a day after their scheduled arbitration hearing was postponed.

Santana's deal includes a $13 million club option for 2013 with a $1 million buyout. If the option is exercised, the agreement would be worth $42 million over five seasons.

The 26-year-old Santana is the youngest active big league pitcher with at least 50 wins. He rebounded from a sub-par season in 2007 to go 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA for the AL West champion Angels last year, striking out a career-high 214 in 219 innings with only 47 walks.

Santana is 51-37 with the Angels, and expects to be a mid-rotation starter on a staff that includes John Lackey, Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver. The announcement was made on the day the team began workouts.

"I'm very happy, you guys don't even know," Santana said at a news conference with general manager Tony Reagins. "I wanted to be an Angel."

Although most major league clubs aren't spending much in the sluggish economy, Santana marked the Angels' second big signing within a week. They reached a $5 million, one-year deal Thursday with free-agent outfielder Bobby Abreu.

"He's performed and improved each year," Reagins said. "He stabilizes our rotation. We know that we're going to have him in this organization for years to come and it's gratifying and well-deserved."

Santana started 32 games last year. His numbers were dramatically improved from 2007, when he went 7-14 with a 5.76 ERA over 26 starts.

Santana burst onto the scene with the Angels in 2005 with a 12-8 mark and a 4.65 ERA in 23 starts. He followed that with a solid 16-8 record and a 4.28 ERA in 2006.

Reagins said the Angels previously approached Santana about a long-term deal and a one-year contract to avoid arbitration.

Santana said the contract agreement had nothing to do with his decision to not play with his native Dominican Republic in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.