NEW YORK Seattle pitcher Freddy Garcia agreed to a $6,875,000, one-year contract Saturday night, while teams dumped 58 players onto the free-agent market when they didn't offer them 2004 contracts.
Garcia, a 27-year-old right-hander, slumped to a 12-14 record with a 4.51 last season after going 18-6 in 2001 and 16-10 in 2002. His salary matches the amount he won in arbitration for 2003.
Peter Greenberg, Garcia's agent, thought Seattle would cut his client loose without an agreement Saturday.
''I can't say they specifically said that, but that was pretty clear that was the direction they were headed in,'' Greenberg said.
In free agent news, Florida agreed to a $3.5 million, one-year contract with reliever Armando Benitez, and the Rockies agreed to a one-year contract with outfielder Jeromy Burnitz that guaranteed him $1.5 million.
Among those who were cut loose and became free agents were Colorado outfielder Jay Payton, who hit .302 and set career bests with 28 homers and 89 RBIs. Also let go was the Marlins' Braden Looper, who began last season as Florida's closer.
Also cut free were Cleveland pitcher Danys Baez, Oakland pitcher Mark Redman, and Baltimore pitchers Damian Moss and Jason Johnson.
Boston did offer a contract to David Ortiz, who hit .288 last season with 31 homers and 101 RBIs, both career highs.
The Dec. 20 deadline has become increasingly important in recent years because teams are squeezing players to agree to contracts by threatening to make them free agents.
Players with more than three years of major league service who are offered contracts are eligible for salary arbitration.
Facing the deadline, 20 players agreed to deals Friday and Garcia was among 10 players who settled Saturday. Florida infielder Alex Gonzalez got a $6.2 million, two-year deal and Marlins pitcher A.J. Burnett got a $2.5 million, one-year deal.
Also getting one-year contracts were Oakland designated hitter Erubiel Durazo ($2.1 million), Boston catcher Doug Mirabelli ($825,000), Atlanta outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. ($800,000), Toronto shortstop Chris Woodward ($775,000), San Diego utilityman Brian Buchanan ($650,000), Milwaukee right-hander Luis Vizcaino ($550,000) and St. Louis outfielder Kerry Robinson ($450,000).
Boston didn't offer contracts to six players: outfielder Gabe Kapler, infielders Lou Merloni and Damian Jackson, and pitchers Scott Sauerbeck, Edwin Almonte and Jason Shiell. Kapler, Almonte and Shiell are expected to re-sign with the Red Sox shortly.
Tampa Bay cut second baseman Marlon Anderson and infielder Jared Sandberg.
Others made free agents were Cincinnati outfielders Ruben Mateo and Reggie Taylor and infielder Russell Branyan; Colorado pitcher Scott Elarton; Detroit catcher Ben Petrick; and Toronto pitchers Trever Miller and Cliff Politte.
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