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Mets told Vlad has committed elsewhere

NEW YORK -- Vladimir Guerrero rejected a three-year contract
offer from the New York Mets, and several reports said the
free-agent outfielder agreed to terms with the Anaheim Angels.

Reports in New York and Los Angeles said Guerrero was set to
sign a $70 million, five-year contract with Anaheim as long as he
passed a physical. But the Angels would not confirm a deal Saturday
night.

"As a matter of policy, we don't comment on speculation,"
Angels vice president of communications Tim Mead told The
Associated Press.

Mets general manager Jim Duquette said Saturday he was informed
by Guerrero's agent, Arn Tellem, that the former Montreal Expos
star would sign a multiyear deal with another team.

The Baltimore Orioles are thought to have offered Guerrero at
least $65 million over five years. It was unclear which other teams
were still pursuing Guerrero.

"I can't comment about what the Mets have said," Orioles vice
president Jim Beattie said. "When we have an announcement to make,
we will make an announcement. Until that time, we remain in
negotiations."

The Angels went 77-85 and missed the playoffs last season, one
year after winning the World Series. But they've been busy this
offseason under new owner Arte Moreno, signing free-agent pitchers
Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar along with outfielder Jose
Guillen.

Colon got a $51 million, four-year contract last month after
Escobar received $18.75 million over three years in November.

Angels general manager Bill Stoneman said then, "We had our
sights set on pitching and I think we accomplished that. I would
say that, conservatively, we're not finished yet."

Guillen signed a $6 million, two-year contract in December.

Guerrero, who turns 28 next month, was on the disabled list from
June 6 to July 21 last season, missing 39 games because of a
herniated disc in his back. He hit .330 with 25 home runs and 79
RBIs for Montreal.

The cash-strapped Expos, owned by the other 29 major league
clubs, let him go in December, declining to offer salary
arbitration.

Concerned about the back injury that forced him to miss nearly
two months last season, the Mets made Guerrero an offer Thursday
that only guaranteed three years.

Duquette said his understanding was that no team would be able
to get insurance for Guerrero's back.

But Duquette said if Guerrero stayed healthy, he would certainly
have reached incentives that would automatically make the proposed
deal with the Mets worth $71 million over five years.

"We weren't willing to make a guaranteed five-year offer, that
was based on the advice of our doctors," Duquette said. "Our
offer was predicated on the health concern."

Still, Duquette said he was optimistic the past few days.

"Our feeling was we had a chance, we had a legitimate chance to
sign the guy. It's obvious the type of player he is. It was a
serious offer," he said.

The Mets were cautious in part because they've been burned by
injuries to players with big contracts recently, most notably first
baseman Mo Vaughn.

Guerrero, a four-time All-Star, is a .323 career hitter. He had
at least 34 homers and 108 RBIs every year from 1998-2002. He also
has one of the strongest arms in baseball.

"I understand the disappointment of the fans," Duquette said.
"The organization is disappointed, too. We made a legitimate run
and we thought we had a chance to get him. We missed out on this
guy unfortunately, but we're going to go forward with our plan."