MVP Morneau signs one-year deal

SUN WIRE SERVICES

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

American League MVP Justin Morneau of New Westminster, B.C., was among 11 players in salary arbitration who reached agreements yesterday, receiving a $4.5-million US, one-year contract from the Minnesota Twins.

Minnesota also agreed to a $4.2-million, two-year contract with third baseman Nick Punto and one-year deals with reliever Juan Rincon ($2 million) and backup outfielder Lew Ford ($985,000).

Morneau, a 25-year-old first baseman, hit .321 last year with 34 homers and 130 RBIs and won the MVP award by 14 points over New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Morneau's agreement was the midpoint between the $5 million he had asked for and the $4 million the team offered.

The Pittsburgh Pirates settled with newly acquired first baseman Adam LaRoche ($3.2 million) and lefty reliever John Grabow ($832,500).

Colorado Rockies right-hander Josh Fogg agreed at $3,625,000, and Milwaukee Brewers catcher Johnny Estrada worked out a deal for $3.4 million.

Twenty-one players remain in arbitration from among the 106 players who filed last month. Hearings are scheduled to start Feb. 8, and they run through Feb. 20.

With spring training workouts set to start Feb. 15, several free agent pitchers agreed to minor-league contracts. The Houston Astros gave deals to right-hander Rick White and left-hander Scott Sauerbeck, the Baltimore Orioles reached an agreement with right-hander Paul Shuey and the Seattle Mariners picked up left-hander Jim Parque, who has not pitched in the major leagues since 2003.

PAVANO EYES RETURN

Carl Pavano says he's healthy and ready to pitch again in the major leagues.

"I've thrown three bullpens. I just threw one this morning. I feel pretty good," he said yesterday.

The New York Yankees pitcher, starting the third season of a $39.95-million, four-year contract, hasn't pitched in the major leagues since June 27, 2005, because of shoulder, back, buttocks, elbow and rib injuries.

GHANA BALL

A delegation headed by Hall of Famer Dave Winfield and former Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants manager Dusty Baker arrived in Ghana for a goodwill trip aimed at promoting the sport in a region where little is known about it.

AROUND THE BASES

Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson has signed a three-year contract ... Ray Berres, a former major-league catcher and longtime pitching coach for the Chicago White Sox, has died. He was 99.


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