The Associated Press reports that the Angels and infielder Erick Aybar have struck a deal to avoid salary arbitration. The deal will pay Aybar a guaranteed $2.05 million for 2010, with an additional $100,000 available through playing time incentives. Hearings have been underway for just over a week, and Aybar and the Angels date with the arbitration panel was looming.
The Angels had offered him $1.8 million compared to the $2.75 million he had requested when the two exchanged figures on January 19th. Pagan's contract falls $225,000 below the exact midpoint between them, $2.275 million. Aybar will still get at least a 346% raise from the $460,000 salary he earned in 2009, which was his final season before salary arbitration.
Aybar, who turned 26 a little more than a month ago, took over shortstop full-time for the Angels in 2009, after splitting time between second and short the previous season. With regular playing time came better production as he enjoyed his best season at the plate in 2009. Aybar posted a batting line of .312/.353/.423 in 556 plate appearances.
Aybar's signing reduces the number of players whose cases are pending to 3. The Angels still have a pending case with backup catcher Jeff Mathis. A ruling in that case is expected soon. Mathis is seeking $1.3 million, while the club offered $700,000. The Angels settled with catcher Mike Napoli earlier for $3.6 million. Mathis and Napoli have shared the job evenly the past 2 1/2 seasons. Mathis is respected for his defense, while Napoli draws praise more for his booming bat.
The salary arbitration process will conclude tomorrow. The owners hold a 3-2 advantage in cases that have gone to arbitration hearings in 2010 and a 283-209 edge overall. For more information on this year's cases as well as historical data going back to 1974, please visit the arbitration scorecard. In addition to Mathis, the Cubs' Ryan Theriot and the Nationals' Sean Burnett have cases still pending. Please visit the salary arbitration figures page for more information.
Joe Tetreault is a member of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey.
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