Pirates' Sanchez "thrilled" after signing $18.9 million deal

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The Pirates and second baseman Freddy Sanchez sounded equally satisfied by the contract extension they signed today, one that could cover three years and pay as much as $18.9 million.

"I'm thrilled," Sanchez said at a PNC Park news conference this afternoon. "Pittsburgh is where I want to be. Everybody knows that. For me and my family, it was kind of a no-brainer. We love this community, and we appreciate the support that our fans give us. There's nothing better than going on the field knowing the fans are on your side, like they are here."

"You want to sign the right players, not every player," general manager Neal Huntington said. "Freddy's exactly the kind of player we want to keep, on the field and in the community."

The breakdown of the deal:

-- Sanchez will make $4 million in base pay this season, plus a $300,000 signing bonus. That essentially strikes common ground on that front, given the salary figures the Pirates and Sanchez had exchanged -- the team $4.1 million, Sanchez $4.9 million -- toward their arbitration hearing that had been set for Monday.

-- He will make $6.1 million in base pay in 2009.

-- For 2010, the Pirates can exercise a club option of $8 million, plus as much as $500,000 in performance bonuses, or pay a $600,000 buyout. That option can vest automatically, too, if Sanchez makes 635 plate appearances in 2009, or he has 600 plate appearances and a berth on the All Star team in 2009.

"We were able to do a few things to make the deal work for both sides," Sanchez's agent, Paul Cobbe, said.

"Mutually beneficial," Huntington called it.

Sanchez had two other reasons to smile: He and his wife, Alissa, had their second child late last month, son Ryan Anthony. And, at roughly the same time, Sanchez resumed throwing for the first time since having minor arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in September. He has been swinging a bat for weeks.

Sanchez said the shoulder "feels great" and that he expects to be fully ready for spring training. To ensure that, he plans to report with the pitchers and catchers Feb. 14, five days before position players are required to show. He will work with the athletic trainers in Bradenton, Fla.

More details in tomorrows Post-Gazette.


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