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Fielder takes Brewers deep

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NEW YORK » Setting himself up for an even bigger payday a year from now, Prince Fielder agreed yesterday 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, AL 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.

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 next month.

Fielder’s agreement topped Mark Teixeira’s $12.5 million deal with Atlanta in 2008.

Fielder hit .261 with 32 homers and 83 RBIs last season, when he made $11.25 million. It was the lowest batting average in his big league career.

Among free agents, the New York Yankees finalized a $35 million, three-year contract with reliever Rafael Soriano. The Yankees also agreed to one-year contracts with right-handers Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain and lefty Boone Logan.

Postseason star Cody Ross agreed to terms with the San Francisco Giants. He got $6.3 million for one year.

Arizona agreed to one-year deals with right-hander Aaron Heilman ($2 million) and utility man Willie Bloomquist ($900,000).


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