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Braves work on avoiding arbitration

POSTED: January 28, 2008 5:02 a.m.

ATLANTA — The Braves avoided arbitration with four players, agreeing to one-year contracts Thursday with pitchers Mike Gonzalez and Tyler Yates, infielder Omar Infante and first baseman Mark Teixeira.

Gonzalez reached a deal for $2,362,500, basically the same salary he played for last season ($2.35 million). The left-hander pitched in only 18 games in 2007, going 2-0 with two saves and a 1.59 ERA before season-ending elbow surgery. He isn't expected to return until around the All-Star break.

Infante, acquired from the Chicago Cubs during the winter meetings to bolster Atlanta's infield depth, will play for $1.4 million this season, a raise of $100,000.

Yates got $800,000 after making $412,500 last season for the Braves. He was 2-3 with a 5.18 ERA and two saves.

First baseman Mark Teixeira agreed to a $12.5 million, one-year contract with the Braves on Thursday, one of four Atlanta players coming to terms rather than going through arbitration.

Teixeira, who added power to the Braves lineup after being acquired from Texas just before the trade deadline, received a big raise over the $9 million he made last season.

He batted .317 with 17 homers and 56 RBIs with Atlanta. Overall, Teixeira had 30 homers, 105 RBIs and hit .306.

The more difficult negotiations with the slugger will come after this season, when Teixeira is eligible for free agency.

Two other Braves filed for arbitration: Reliever Rafael Soriano and outfielder Matt Diaz.

The Braves sent troubled infielder Willy Aybar to Tampa Bay in a three-player trade Thursday that brought left-hander Jeff Ridgway to Atlanta.

The Rays also received minor league infielder Chase Fontaine from Atlanta.

The 24-year-old Aybar was expected to be a key backup for the Braves last season, but he injured his right hand, reportedly battled substance abuse problems and wound up missing the entire year.

Aybar was suspended by the Braves when he failed to show up for treatment. He eventually had season-ending surgery.

Ridgway gives the Braves another bullpen candidate after pitching most of last season at Triple-A Durham. He went 2-3 with a 3.06 ERA and four saves in 54 games with the Bulls before getting called up to the majors in the final month.

The 27-year-old Ridgway made three appearances for the Rays, struggling to get anyone out. He allowed seven runs in one-third of an inning for a 189.00 ERA.

Fontaine, 22, hit a combined .280 with seven home runs and 58 RBIs for three low-level minor league teams last season.



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