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Angels agree to deal with reliever Oliver

AROUND THE MAJORS

December 12, 2006|Mike DiGiovanna | From Times Staff and Wire Reports

The Angels, refusing to abandon the concept of a left-hander in the bullpen, signed veteran reliever Darren Oliver to a one-year, $1.5-million contract with a $2-million vesting option for 2008.

After going most of 2004 and 2005 without a left-handed reliever, the Angels signed highly regarded veteran J.C. Romero for 2006, but Romero was not retained after finishing 1-2 with a 6.70 earned-run average in 65 games.

The Angels are hoping for better results from Oliver, 36, who revived his career by going 4-1 with a 3.44 ERA in 45 games for the New York Mets last season, giving up 70 hits, striking out 60 and walking 21 in 81 innings. Oliver had retired in May 2005 after failing to stick with three teams.

Oliver, who limited opponents to a .231 average and left-handers to a .208 mark last season, can also start, giving the Angels the versatility they lost when they traded Kevin Gregg to Florida in November.

Oliver will complete a deep and experienced bullpen that includes Francisco Rodriguez, Scot Shields, Justin Speier, Hector Carrasco and Brendan Donnelly, who is expected to be tendered a 2007 contract today.

Oliver also adds to the Angels' stable of major league offspring, such as Speier, who signed a four-year, $18-million deal, and center fielder Gary Matthews Jr., who signed a five-year, $50-million deal. Oliver is the son of a major leaguer, Bob Oliver, who spent part of his 11-year career with the Angels (1972-74).

-- Mike DiGiovanna

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Former Dodger Kenny Lofton reached a preliminary agreement on a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers worth about $6 million.

The agreement is pending a physical for the 39-year-old Lofton, a six-time All-Star.

Lofton is expected to fill the void in the Rangers lineup created when Matthews signed with the Angels. Lofton, who turns 40 on May 31, batted .301 with 32 steals and 41 runs batted in for the Dodgers last season.

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Reliever Jose Mesa and the Detroit Tigers agreed to a $2.5-million, one-year contract.

The 40-year-old Mesa was 1-5 with a 3.86 ERA with the Colorado Rockies last season.

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Jay Payton agreed to a $9.5-million, two-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles, who have spent much of the off-season searching for a right-handed-hitting outfielder.

Payton batted .296 with 10 homers and 59 RBIs in 142 games with the Oakland Athletics last season.

From the Associated Press

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