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Fielder's big deal sets record; Brewers slugger gets $15.5M for one year

Setting himself up for an even bigger payday a year from now, Prince Fielder agreed Tuesday to a $15.5 million contract with the Milwaukee Brewers in the largest one-year deal for a player not yet eligible for free agency.

On a day when 67 of the 119 players who filed for salary arbitration reached agreements, American League MVP Josh Hamilton, major league home run champion Jose Bautista and Houston pitcher Wandy Rodriguez submitted the largest proposed salaries when players and teams swapped proposed figures.

Hamilton asked Texas for $12 million and was offered $8.7 million; Bautista asked Toronto for $10.5 million and was offered $7.6 million; Rodriguez asked for $10.25 million and was offered $8 million.

Only 37 players exchanged with their clubs, and three of those already have agreements.

Boston and closer Jonathan Papelbon settled at $12 million, a person familiar with the deal said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Red Sox had not yet announced it.

Texas agreed with left-hander C.J. Wilson at $7 million and outfielder Nelson Cruz at $2.65 million.

Those among the remaining 34 players who don't settle will have hearings before three-person panels during the first three weeks in February.

Owners won five of eight hearings last year, bringing their advantage to 285-210 since salary arbitration began in 1974. Still, players are winners in the process. Last year, a study by the Associated Press found the 128 players in arbitration averaged a raise of 121 percent, down from the record 172 percent increase in 2009.

Fielder's agreement topped Mark Teixeira's $12.5 million deal with Atlanta in 2008. Both are represented by agent Scott Boras, who encourages clients to test the free-agent market.

The New York Yankees agreed to one-year contracts with right-handers Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain and lefty Boone Logan to avoid arbitration.

New York also finalized its $35 million, three-year contract with free-agent reliever Rafael Soriano, adding a proven closer who will become Mariano Rivera's setup man. Soriano is scheduled to be introduced Wednesday morning at a Yankee Stadium news conference.

Hughes receives $2.7 million next season, while Chamberlain will earn $1.4 million and Logan $1.2 million. The Yankees lost the 2010 American League Championship Series to the Texas Rangers in six games a year after winning the World Series.

Right-hander Mike Pelfrey and the New York Mets agreed to a one-year contract worth $3,925,000, a deal that avoided salary arbitration.

Pelfrey made $500,000 last year, when he was one of the team's few bright spots by going 15-9 with a 3.66 ERA in 33 starts and one relief appearance.

In Kansas City, Royals pitcher Gil Meche retired on Tuesday at age 32, walking away from a $12 million salary rather than face shoulder surgery that could have ended his season before it ever started.

Meche signed a $55 million, five-year deal with Kansas City as a free agent before the 2007 season. But the right-hander had shoulder problems last year while going 0-5 with a 5.69 ERA.

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>Baseball transactions

AMERICAN LEAGUE

CHICAGO -- Agreed to terms with LHP John Danks, OF Carlos Quentin and RHP Tony Penaon on one-year contracts. Claimed RHP Phil Humber off waivers from Oakland.

CLEVELAND -- Agreed to terms with OF Shin Soo Choo, RHP Chris Perez and LHP Rafael Perez on one-year contracts. Named Mike Hargrove special advisor.

DETROIT -- Agreed to terms with RHP Armando Galarraga and RHP Brad Penny on one-year contracts. Designated Galarraga for assignment.

KANSAS CITY -- Agreed to terms with RHP Kyle Davies on a one-year contract. Announced the retirement of RHP Gil Meche.

MINNESOTA -- Agreed to terms with RHP Matt Capps and LHP Glen Perkins on one-year contracts.

NEW YORK -- Agreed to terms with RHP Joba Chamberlain, RHP Phil Hughes and LHP Boone Logan on one-year contracts.

OAKLAND -- Agreed to with OF Josh Willingham, OF Conor Jackson, LHP Dallas Braden and 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff on one-year contracts.

SEATTLE -- Agreed to terms with RHP David Aardsma, RHP Brandon League and LHP Jason Vargas to one-year contracts.

TEXAS -- Named Joe Januszewski executive vice president, business partnerships and development. Agreed to terms with OF Nelson Cruz and LHP C.J. Wilson on one-year contracts.

TORONTO -- Agreed to terms with SS Yunel Escobar and RHP Brandon Morrow on one-year contracts and OF Rajai Davis on a two-year contract.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

ARIZONA -- Agreed to terms with INF Stephen Drew on a two-year contract and LHP Joe Saunders on a one-year contract.

CHICAGO -- Agreed to terms with LHP Sean Marshall on a two-year contract and LHP Tom Gorzelanny, RHP Matt Garza and C Geovany Soto on one-year contracts.

FLORIDA -- Agreed to terms with RHP Anibal Sanchez and RHP Clay Hensley on one-year contracts,

HOUSTON -- Agreed to terms with OF Michael Bourn, INF Clint Barmes and INF Jeff Keppinger on one-year contracts.

LOS ANGELES -- Agreed to terms with RHP Chad Billingsley on a one-year contract.

MILWAUKEE -- Agreed to terms with 1B Prince Fielder and LHP Manny Parra on one-year contracts.

NEW YORK -- Agreed to terms with RHP Mike Pelfrey on a one-year contract.

PHILADELPHIA -- Agreed to terms with RHP Kyle Kendrick on a one-year contract.

PITTSBURGH -- Agreed to terms with RHP Joel Hanrahan on a one-year contract. Agreed to terms with RHP Jose Veras and C Wyatt Toregas on minor league contracts.

WASHINGTON -- Agreed to terms with LHP Doug Slaten and OF Michael Morse on one-year contracts.

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