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Puckett Agrees to $2-Million Pact Plus Bonuses : Howell, Miller Also Avoid Arbitration by Reaching Agreements With Angels

Times Staff Writer

The Angels resolved two more of their arbitration cases Wednesday, reaching 1-year agreements with Jack Howell and Darrell Miller, but their terms paled compared to the agreement Kirby Puckett reached with the Minnesota Twins.

Puckett, one of four players who filed for salary arbitration at $2 million or more, agreed to a 1989 contract calling for $2 million in salary and $200,000 in award bonuses. Puckett, who earned $1.21 million in salary and award bonuses last season, when he batted .356 with 24 home runs and 121 runs batted in, had submitted an arbitration figure of $2,150,000, compared to the Twins’ offer of $1.9 million.

The agreement makes the 27-year-old center fielder reach $2 million in salary faster than any player in major league history. Puckett has 4 years 147 days of major league service. Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees had 4 years 163 days last winter when he agreed to a 3-year, $6.7-million deal that paid him $2 million in 1988.

Puckett’s 1988 batting average, second in the American League to Wade Boggs’ .366, was the highest for a right-handed hitter since Joe DiMaggio batted .357 in 1941, and he won a Gold Glove for the third straight year. His agent, Ron Shapiro, said that negotiations involving a multiyear contract are continuing with the Twins.

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Howell, the Angels’ third baseman who made $200,000 while hitting 16 homers and driving in 63 runs in his second full season, agreed to an estimated $465,000 after filing at $495,000. The Angels countered at $400,000.

Miller, a reserve catcher who hit .221 in 70 games, got a $50,000 raise to $157,500. He filed at $187,500 compared to the Angels’ offer of $107,500.

The Angels still face the possibility of four arbitration cases, with hearings scheduled for relief pitcher Greg Minton Feb. 1, outfielder Chili Davis Feb. 3, first baseman Wally Joyner Feb. 6 and shortstop Dick Schofield Feb. 13.

After some initial bitterness over what he termed a lack of meaningful negotiations with the Angels, Joyner’s attorney, Barry Axelrod, said Wednesday that there has been improvement.

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“We seem to be on a better ground,” he said. “I think everyone is attempting to be more constructive. I’m still assuming that we’ll arbitrate, but I’m hopeful it might be otherwise.”

Six other players reached agreements Wednesday, reducing the number of players still headed for arbitration to 90.

Relief pitcher Jeff Robinson, who made $475,000 last year, agreed to a 2-year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates for $1.675 million. Pittsburgh first baseman Sid Bream agreed to a 1-year contract at $510,000, a raise of $150,000.

Outfielder Oddibe McDowell and the Cleveland Indians agreed to a 1-year contract at $375,000, a $125,000 raise, and catcher Bob Melvin, traded by the San Francisco Giants to the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday, agreed to a 1-year contract at an estimated $215,000. The Oakland A’s reached 1-year agreements with pitcher Curt Young and utility infielder Mike Gallego for undisclosed terms.

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