Prince Fielder and the Brewers started off what’s likely to be their final year together with a record.
Fielder and the club avoided salary arbitration yesterday by agreeing to a $15.5 million, one-year contract. The deal is the highest single-season contract for an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing Mark Teixeira’s $12.5 million agreement with Atlanta in 2008.
The club’s prospects to keep Fielder in Milwaukee past the upcoming season are slim. Fielder is represented by agent Scott Boras and can become a free agent following the World Series.
“We’re just focusing on this year,’’ Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. “It’s the best thing for all parties involved, with him going into his free agent year and us going into a year where we want to have a lot of success.’’
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 career.
Fielder, 26, is expected to be the top free agent hitter available in November and has been the biggest force in a potent offense with an impressive list of accolades.
Fielder became the youngest player to hit 50 home runs, accomplishing the feat at age 23 in 2007. In 2009, he won the Home Run Derby at the All-Star break and finished with a .299 average and 46 homers, tying Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard with a big league-best 141 RBIs.
Lefthander Manny Parra also avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $1.2 million, one-year deal with the Brewers.
Yankee dealings The Yankees agreed to one-year contracts with righthanders 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. Hughes receives $2.7 million next season, and Chamberlain will earn $1.4 million and Logan $1.2 million . . . Outfielder Marcus Thames, who had a career-high .288 average in 82 games with the Yankees last season, signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers . . . The Diamondbacks avoided arbitration with Stephen Drew by signing the shortstop to a two-year, $13.75 million contract. The deal includes a mutual option for a third year at a salary of $10 million. Arizona also signed arbitration-eligible lefthander Joe Saunders to a one-year, $5.5 million contract . . . Righthander Matt Garza, who could be the Cubs Opening Day pitcher after being acquired in a trade from the Rays last week, agreed to a $5.95 million, one-year contract and avoided arbitration. Garza made $3.35 million last season, when he was 15-10 . . . The Orioles agreed to terms on one-year contracts for shortstop J.J. Hardy ($5.85 million), outfielders Adam Jones ($3.25 million) and Felix Pie ($985,000), and righthanded reliever Jim Johnson ($440,000) . . . Postseason star Cody Ross avoided salary arbitration with the World Series champion Giants, agreeing to terms on a $6.3 million, one-year contract. The deal marks a nice raise for the former kid rodeo clown, who hit five postseason home runs. Ross earned $4.45 million last season, when he joined the Giants on a waiver claim from Florida Aug. 22. Righthanded reliever Ramon Ramirez, acquired by the Red Sox at the trade deadline, also avoided arbitration by agreeing on a $1.65 million, one-year deal.
Bradley arrested Mariners outfielder Milton Bradley was arrested in Los Angeles on a felony charge and released from jail on $50,000 bail. The booking records did not specify the nature of the charge . . . The Tigers appear ready to part ways with Armando Galarraga, the righthander who missed a perfect game last season when umpire Jim Joyce’s wrong call cost him what would have been the final out. In an odd procedural move, the Tigers designated Galarraga for assignment, almost immediately after agreeing to a $2.3 million, one-year contract with him. Detroit also finalized its one-year deal with Brad Penny, bumping Galarraga from the starting rotation . . . Gil Meche, 32, who signed a $55 million, five-year contract with the Royals in 2007, retired because of shoulder problems . . . Mike Pelfrey and the Mets agreed to a one-year contract worth $3,925,000 . . . Others who avoided salary arbitration: Rays righthander Andy Sonnanstine ($912,500); Padres closer Heath Bell ($7.5 million); Rangers lefthander C.J. Wilson ($7 million) and outfielder Nelson Cruz ($3.65 million); Braves righthander Jair Jurrjens ($3.25 million); Dodgers righthander Chad Billingsley ($6,275,000).