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Padres Reportedly Get Andersen

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Padres reached an agreement Wednesday with free-agent relief pitcher Larry Andersen on a two-year, $4.4 million contract, according to sources, making him the highest-paid pitcher per year in franchise history.

Andersen also will receive an option year in the contract that could bring the total value of the package to $6 million. His average salary of $2.2 million during the next two seasons also is the highest of any player on the Padre roster.

The Padres, according to a source, will make the announcement either today or Friday, when Andersen officially signs the contract.

“But it’s a done deal,” a source said.

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Joe McIlvaine, Padre general manager, refused to confirm that an agreement has been reached, saying only, “We’re still talking, let’s leave it at that.”

Andersen, 37, becomes the first free-agent signed by McIlvaine as a general manager in his five years with the New York Mets, and two months with the Padres. He also is the second free-agent reliever signed by the Padres in the past 12 months--joining left-handed Craig Lefferts--since the departure of free-agent bullpen stopper Mark Davis.

Andersen fills the void in the Padre bullpen as the right-handed stopper. He was 5-2 with a 1.79 ERA this past season with the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox, saving seven games.

In fact, Andersen was one of the finest right-handed relievers in the game this season. He yielded a .178 batting average against right-handed batters, without allowing a triple or a homer. Overall, he allowed only 79 hits in 95 2/3 innings.

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He also is considered one of baseball’s funniest men, and during his 4 1/2 years with the Astros was perhaps their most popular player.

Andersen, who was traded by the Astros to the Boston Red Sox in August, became a second-look free agent along with 14 other players in December. He still had one year left on his contract for $985,000, which he had the option to waive once he was declared a free agent.

In other news, the Padres signed right-handed pitcher Mike Dunne to a one-year contract. He’s expected to compete for the vacancy as the Padres’ fifth starter, and if he fails, likely will end up in middle relief.

Also, free-agent starting pitcher Dennis Rasmussen rejected the Padres’ offer of arbitration. The Padres, who have offered a one-year contract at an estimated $900,000, have until Jan. 8 to sign him or lose his rights until May 1.

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“We’ll continue to negotiate,” McIlvaine said. “I don’t know what will happen.”

McIlvaine also continues to have discussions with second baseman Marty Barrett, who was released Friday by the Red Sox. Barrett also has spoken with the Kansas City Royals and Atlanta Braves.


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