Pirates agree to terms with Kolb, Sanchez

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The Pirates today agreed to terms on a minor-league contract with free-agent reliever Dan Kolb and avoided arbitration with third baseman Freddy Sanchez by agreeing to a one-year contract.

If Kolb makes the 25-man roster out of spring training, he will make $1.25 million in base pay, plus as much as $1.3 million in performance bonuses. If he is not added to the roster, he has the right to declare himself a free agent.

Sanchez's base pay will be $2.75 million, and he can earn an additional $10,000 if he makes 650 plate appearances. He had filed for $3.1 million through arbitration, and the Pirates had countered with $2.15 million.

The Pirates and Sanchez, the National League batting champion in 2006, had come close to a two-year deal as recently as a week ago, but the parties reverted to their original talks aimed at a one-year.

The team and Sanchez had been scheduled to have their arbitration hearing Thursday.

The Pirates have only one arbitration-eligible player remaining, second baseman Jose Castillo. The hearing is scheduled for Feb. 14.

Kolb, who will turn 32 next month, had two exceptional seasons as the Milwaukee Brewers' closer in 2003-04, recording 60 saves in 67 chances with a 2.55 ERA. In the second of those seasons, he pitched in the All-Star Game. But Kolb's fortunes flipped in 2005 with the Atlanta Braves. He lost the closer's job after blowing seven saves in 18 chances and posting a 5.93 ERA.

Back in Milwaukee last season, he pitched mostly out of a setup role and had a 4.84 ERA in 53 appearances. And, as Lapa indicated, he fared much better after the All-Star break. Beforehand, he had a 6.28 ERA despite opening the season with eight scoreless appearances. Afterward, it was 2.75, including 14 consecutive scoreless appearances in July and August.

More details in tomorrow's Post-Gazette.


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