George Bell, the American League's most valuable player in 1987, signed a $3.8-million, two-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays Wednesday, avoiding arbitration by just hours for the second straight year.
Bell, who could earn a total $5.8 million if he takes an option on a third year, is the highest-paid member of the team and one of the highest-paid players in baseball.
Bell, 28, had asked for a one-year, $2.105-million contract, the highest asking price in arbitration since the process began in 1974. The Jays had countered with a $1.725-million offer.
He can earn more than $400,000 a year in incentive bonuses.
Bell had threatened that 1988 would be his last season with the Jays if he did not obtain a long-term contract. He was eligible to become a free agent at end of the '88 season.
The two-year contract provides Bell $1.9 million a year plus bonuses, and an option on a third year for $2 million plus bonuses.