Astros still hope to sign him to multiyear deal

Houston Astros: All-Star outfielder Lance Berkman, expected to
miss the start of the season after hurting his knee playing flag
football, avoided salary arbitration when he agreed Thursday to a
$10.5 million, one-year contract.

Houston said it will attempt to reach a multiyear deal with
Berkman, who is eligible to become a free agent after next season.
He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in

Berkman is coming off a three-year contract that guaranteed him
$10.5 million. He earned an additional $575,000 in bonuses under
the deal.

He had asked for $11 million in arbitration and had been offered
$10 million.

Berkman hit .316 with 30 homers and 106 RBI last season,
helping the Astros get within one game of their first World Series.
He led Houston in batting average, homers, walks, slugging
percentage, total bases, on-base percentage and games.

Three Astros, all right-handed pitchers, remain in arbitration:
pitchers Roy Oswalt ($7.8 million vs. $6 million), Tim Redding
($1.4 million vs. $575,000) and Pete Munro ($1.1 million vs.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Right-handed reliever Rick White agreed to a minor league contract with the team he broke into the majors with 11 years ago.

White, 36, is the 27th non-roster player invited to the Pirates'
major league spring training camp. His major league salary would be
$475,000 if he is added to the roster, and he could earn bonuses of
$50,000 each for 50 and 60 games and $100,000 for 70 games.

White has been with seven major league clubs since going a
combined 6-8 in 58 games with Pittsburgh during the 1994 and 1995
seasons. He spent last season with the Indians, going 5-5 with a
5.29 ERA in 59 games after being acquired from the Dodgers for
minor leaguer Trey Dyson in April. He became a free agent in
December after the Indians declined to offer him salary

White hasn't had a full-season ERA below 4.31 since he was 4-5
with a 3.88 ERA in 2001 with the Mets.

Since leaving the Pirates, White was out of the majors for two
seasons following elbow surgery before pitching for the Devil Rays,
Mets, Rockies, Cardinals, White Sox and Indians, almost exclusively
as a reliever. He hasn't started a game since 1999 and has made
only 18 starts in 449 games, with a career record of 33-45 and a
4.30 ERA.

Milwaukee Brewers: Outfielder Brady Clark agreed to a $1.15 million, one-year contract and avoided salary

Clark hit .280 with seven homers and 46 RBI in 138 games with
Milwaukee last season. He made $376,000 last year and was eligible
for arbitration for the first time, asking for $1.3 million. The
Brewers had offered $1.05 million.

Milwaukee claimed Clark off waivers from the New York Mets in
2003. He was first signed by the Cincinnati Reds as a free agent in

Pitcher Ben Sheets and infielder Junior Spivey are Milwaukee's
two remaining players in arbitration and are scheduled for hearings
next month.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Reliever Mike Koplove agreed to a $2 million, two-year contract.

With 2 years, 144 days of major league service, Koplove was
eligible for arbitration for the first time. After making $330,000
last year, he will earn $825,000 this season and $1,175,000 in

The 28-year-old right-hander was sidelined much of the 2003
season after shoulder surgery. He had a career-high 76 appearances
last year, going 4-4 with two saves and a 4.05 ERA.

Koplove has a 13-6 record and 3.44 ERA in 171 career appearances
with Arizona. He had filed for $970,000 and Arizona had submitted

Left-hander Casey Fossum is Arizona's last player still
scheduled for a hearing. He asked for a raise from $345,000 to
$1.35 million and was offered $800,000.

Anaheim Angels: Backup catcher Josh Paul avoided
arbitration by agreeing to a $450,000,
one-year contract that gives him the chance to earn an additional
$75,000 if he plays in 90 games.

Paul hit .243 with two homers and 10 RBI in 46 games with the
Angels last season, when he earned $335,000. He had requested
$625,000 in arbitration and Anaheim had offered $400,000.

Paul, 29, would earn $15,000 bonuses for playing in 50, 60, 70,
80 and 90 games. He was the last Angels player in arbitration.

Originally selected by the Chicago White Sox in the second round
of the 1996 amateur draft, Paul was signed by Anaheim as a free
agent last winter. He has a career batting average of .259 in 194
games with six homers and 52 RBI.

Washington Nationals: Infielder George Arias agreed to a
minor league contract with the Washington Nationals after spending
the last five seasons in Japan.

Arias, 32, averaged 32 homers and 86 RBI with the Orix BlueWave
of the Pacific League (2000-01) and the Hashin Tigers (2002-04) of
the Central League. He played first base and third base for Hashin.

Arias played four seasons with Anaheim and San Diego before
heading overseas, hitting .237 with 14 homers and 55 RBI in 173
games. He batted .244 with seven home runs and 20 RBI for the
Padres in 1999.

The Nationals also agreed to one-year contracts with infielder
Jamey Carroll, left-handed pitcher Michael Hinckley and
right-handed pitcher Darrell Rasner. Carroll hit .289 in 102 games
for Montreal last season, and Hinckley and Rasner are considered two of the team's best prospects.

Atlanta Braves: The club settled its final salary
arbitration case, agreeing to a one-year deal with
reliever Kevin Gryboski for $877,500.

The Braves also reached a preliminary agreement with
right-handed reliever Jay Powell on a minor-league contract. He
pitched last season in Texas.

Gryboski, who made $377,500 last year, asked for $975,000 in
arbitration. The Braves countered at $780,000.

The 31-year-old right-hander would receive a $2,500 bonus for
pitching in 70 games, and $10,000 each for pitching in 75 and 80
games. Last season, he worked in 69 games, going 3-2 with a 2.84
ERA and two saves.

New York Yankees: Utility player Damian Rolls agreed to a minor
league contract after spending
five seasons with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The 27-year-old Rolls played six positions for the Devil Rays
last season, appearing at first, second, third and three positions
in the outfield. He hit .162 with no homers, had nine RBI, 36
strikeouts and 10 walks in 117 at-bats.

In his Tampa Bay career, Rolls hit .248 with nine homers, 73
RBI and 27 steals.