Escobar, Nationals agree to $530,000 for 1 year

Updated: January 24, 2007, 7:07 PM ET
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Outfielder Alex Escobar and the Washington Nationals agreed to a $530,000, one-year contract Tuesday, avoiding arbitration.

Escobar, expected to compete in spring training for a spot as the team's third or fourth outfielder, had asked for $590,000, while the Nationals offered $500,000. The $90,000 gap was the smallest among the 56 players who swapped proposed salaries with their teams last week.

He made $333,000 -- $6,000 above the major league minimum -- last season, when he hit .356 with four homers and 18 RBIs in only 87 at-bats. As has been the case for much of his career, Escobar was hampered by injuries in 2006, including hamstring problems and a season-ending torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Escobar hurt the shoulder sliding back to a base in August, then had surgery in September.

The agreement left three Nationals in arbitration: starter John Patterson, closer Chad Cordero and outfielder Austin Kearns. The club previously agreed to a $3.9 million, one-year deal with Felipe Lopez, who had asked for $4.1 million in arbitration.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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