Sanchez, Pirates agree to deal, avoid arbitration

National League batting champion Freddy Sanchez agreed to a one-year, $2.75 million contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for next Thursday.

Freddy Sanchez Sanchez

Sanchez, 29, is coming off a breakthrough season in which he hit .344 to beat out Florida's Miguel Cabrera for the batting title. He also led the league with 53 doubles and finished with 200 hits to rank third in the NL behind the Cubs' Juan Pierre and Philadelphia's Chase Utley.

Sanchez had asked for $3.1 million in salary arbitration, while the Pirates had countered with an offer of $2.15 million.

"You've got to have thick skin through this process and I don't
take anything personal," said Sanchez, who led the NL with 53
doubles. "I understand what's going to go on."

Sanchez took over the starting third base job in Pittsburgh last year after Joe Randa went down with an early season injury. He is a candidate to play second or third for the Pirates in 2007.

Sanchez signed his deal a day after first baseman Adam LaRoche and reliever John Grabow also avoided salary arbitration with the Pirates. LaRoche signed a $3.2 million contract and Grabow agreed to a deal for $832,500.

Jerry Crasnick covers Major League Baseball for ESPN Insider. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.