- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Nationals yesterday avoided arbitration with relief pitcher Jon Rauch, agreeing on a two-year, $3.2 million contract that includes a club option for the 2010 season.

Rauch will earn $1.2 million this season and $2.0 million in 2009. The club option, which must be picked up within five days of the end of the 2008 World Series, would pay him $2.9 million.

The 6-foot-11 Rauch has made more appearances than any other pitcher over the last two years, relieving in 173 games, including a major league-high 88 appearances last season. Performing primarily as a set-up man for closer Chad Cordero, he recorded an ERA of 3.61 with four saves, though he also blew six leads. His 33 holds tied him for third in baseball last season.

Rauch first joined the Nationals via trade from the White Sox in 2004, when the franchise played in Montreal.

By agreeing to terms with Rauch, the Nationals have just one arbitration-eligible player — infielder Felipe Lopez — remaining on the team’s 40-man roster. Lopez’s arbitration date is set for Feb. 13.

The only other player without a contract for 2008 is third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who is in talks with the club for a long-term deal and will be arbitration-eligible after the upcoming season.

Santana deal final

Johan Santana is a member of the New York Mets.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner passed his physical, finalizing the blockbuster trade that sent him from Minnesota to New York for four prospects: outfielder Carlos Gomez and right-handers Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra.

“We’ve been lacking what we consider a true No. 1 starter,” Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. “It doesn’t get much better than Johan Santana.”

The Mets and Twins announced the deal one day after Santana agreed to a six-year, $137.5 million contract with New York — record riches for a pitcher.

Terms of the agreement were disclosed by a baseball official with knowledge of the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made. The deal includes deferred money and a club option for 2014 with a $5.5 million buyout.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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