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LaRoche: One year OK for now

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The Pirates today avoided salary abritration wtih Adam LaRoche by signing him to a one-year, $7.05 million contract.

“It took a little while, but we got it done,” LaRoche said by phone from his home in Kansas. “At the beginning, things didn’t look real good (because) we were a ways apart. But it was never my biggest concern.”

The first baseman got a $2 million raise after hitting .270 with 25 home runs last season. LaRoche can become a free agent after the 2009 season.

A year ago, the Pirates approached LaRoche about a multi-year contract, but wound up hammering out just a one-year deal. This offseason, the Pirates offered just a one-year contract.

“There was no talk of anything past this year,” LaRoche said. “And I wasn’t expecting there to be.

“It’s not necessarily a bad thing to go year to year. The benefit is, there can be a little more money. The downside is, you might have to move around a lot from team to team.”

LaRoche said he would be open to re-signing with the Pirates — for more than just one year — after this season.

“Hopefully, we’ll both have different feelings about it in the offseason than we did this year and we can get something done.”

The Pirates had five arbitration-eligible players — outfielder Nate McLouth and pitchers John Grabow, Zach Duke, Tyler Yates and Paul Maholm — unsigned at the noon deadline. Even if the sides exchange contract figures, a deal could still be worked out before things would go to a hearing.

It’s possible deals have been worked out, but just not yet announced. However, that is not the case with McLouth. The team and McLouth’s agents exchanged contract figures and might have to settle the matter through an arbitration hearing.

The Pirates had discussed multi-year offers with Maholm and McLouth, but failed to reach agreements. Although there remains a chance the Pirates could work out something long-term with Maholm, talks with McLouth’s camp have ground to a halt.

McLouth, a surprise All-Star last season, will take a one-year contract — through arbitration, if necessary — and hope it will help set his value for 2010 and beyond if the Pirates are willing to revisit the possibility of a long-term contract.

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