- Associated Press - Monday, January 3, 2011

DENVER (AP) - The publicist for Carlos Gonzalez said an $80 million, seven-year contract for the Colorado Rockies outfielder is practically finalized.

Fabiola Bohorquez confirmed from Venezuela the signing remains imminent, pending a physical. Gonzalez will soon fly to Denver to sign the contract, she said.

The Rockies wouldn’t confirm the deal, which was first reported by the Denver Post. Scott Boras, Gonzalez’s agent, said only “we are in discussions with Colorado.”

“It’s not at all finalized. But everything is practically concluded. All that’s left are the physical evaluations,” Gonzalez told Meridiano Television in Venezuela.

“It’s a blessing for me to have this contract at such a young age,” he added.

Gonzalez had a breakout season in 2010, winning a Silver Slugger award and a Gold Glove. The 25-year-old won the NL batting title with a .336 average and also hit 34 homers and drove in 117 runs despite batting leadoff for 44 games early in the year.

Smooth at the plate, Gonzalez was just as splendid in the field, turning in seemingly effortless catches as the Rockies shifted him around between all three outfield spots.

Without the agreement, Gonzalez would be eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.

Colorado has been committing large amounts of money this offseason to sign some of its core players.

Jorge De La Rosa, one of the top lefties on the free-agent market, agreed to a $21.5 million, two-year contract to return to the Rockies.

In November, All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki signed an agreement that guarantees him $157.75 million over the next decade.

Now, Gonzalez will potentially have protection in the order for quite some time.

In a recent teleconference, Tulowitzki jokingly took a little credit for Gonzalez’s late season run at the Triple Crown, especially since Tulowitzki was hitting behind the player known as “CarGo.”

It was a pick-your-poison option as Tulowitzki turned in a sizzling September, hitting a franchise-best 15 homers and knocking in 40 runs.

Still, the production of Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, along with the pitching of ace Ubaldo Jimenez, wasn’t enough to lift Colorado into the postseason last season.

The Rockies brought in versatile infielder Ty Wigginton in hopes he can replace Melvin Mora, who signed with Arizona.

Gonzalez has been involved in two major trades in his burgeoning career. In December 2007, he was part of the deal in that landed Dan Haren in Arizona and sent him to Oakland.

A year later, just as he was settling in with the Athletics, Gonzalez was shipped to Colorado, along with closer Huston Street and lefty Greg Smith, for All-Star Matt Holliday.

He’s embraced the challenge of living up to Holliday’s shadow, even if he faltered at first.

Gonzalez struggled early in 2009, before helping the Rockies into the postseason that season.

He’s been on quite a roll ever since.


AP Sports Writers Ronald Blum in New York and Arnie Stapleton in Denver and AP freelance writer Billy Russo in Caracas, Venezuela, contributed to this report.

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