Bucs Sign LaRoche And Three Others

The Pirates have agreed to terms with first baseman Adam LaRoche on a one-year contract worth $7.05 million, thus avoiding salary arbitration. The deal includes incentives worth up to $100,000, based on at-bats.

Pitchers John Grabow, Zach Duke and Tyler Yates — also inked one-year deals for substantial raises. But pitcher Paul Maholm and outfielder Nate McLouth did not sign and could be headed for salary arbitration — a process which could turn acrimonious.

"If you can avoid an arbitration hearing, that's good," LaRoche said. "I hope those guys (Maholm and McLouth) realize it's no hard feelings by the Pirates. It's business."

Duke will get $2.2 million, plus up to $100,000 in incentives. The left-hander made $400,000 last season.

Grabow will get $2.3 million, plus up to $75,000 in incentives. The lefty setup specialist made $1.135 last year.

Yates will get $1.3 million, plus up to $25,000 in incentives. The righty reliever made $800,000 last year.

After yesterday's noon deadline, agents for Maholm and McLouth exchanged salary figures with the Pirates. There are big gaps between what each player wants and what the team is offering, setting up a potentially nasty battle.

Maholm, the team's top pitcher last season, asked for $3.8 million. The Pirates' offer is $2.65 million. McLouth, a surprise All-Star last year, asked for $3.8 million. The Pirates' offer is $2.75 million.

If the cases go to hearings, an arbitrator will choose either the player's or the team's figure. The hearings, in which data is presented to scrutinize a player's performance, can be very ugly.

"Both sides recognize arbitration can ultimately come to an ugly head," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "But if that's where it leads, we'll have to see it through."

LaRoche batted .270 with 25 home runs, but had another extended, early-season slump.

"It's not necessarily a bad thing to go year to year," LaRoche said. "The benefit is, there can be a little more money. The downside is, you might have to move around a lot from team to team."

LaRoche indicated he would be open to re-signing with the Pirates, for more than just one year, after this season.

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