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Giants sign Gold Glove center fielder Rowand

| Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO -- Aaron Rowand agreed to a $60 million, five-year contract with the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday, giving the club the starting center fielder it sought this winter.

The 30-year-old Rowand is expected to bat fifth for San Francisco after spending the last two seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies.

He is coming off his best season yet, earning his first Gold Glove award and All-Star selection while helping the Phillies to the NL East title. He batted .309 with 27 home runs and career bests of 89 RBI, 105 runs, 189 hits and 45 doubles in 161 games.

While manager Bruce Bochy had said Rajai Davis would get a chance to earn the job come spring training, Rowand was brought in to start in center. That means Dave Roberts likely will shift from center to left field to replace departed home run king Barry Bonds, Randy Winn will stay put in right while Davis and some of the other young outfielders share time in a reserve role.

"Aaron is an all-around player who is coming into his prime and helps us check off two boxes -- an extremely talented defensive center fielder and a middle of the order presence," general manager Brian Sabean said. "His ability in center field definitely plays to our ballpark and will help provide more stability to our pitching staff."

Cubs get Japanese outfielder

The Chicago Cubs reeled in another marquee free agent, reaching a preliminary agreement with Japanese star Kosuke Fukudome on a four-year, $48 million deal to be their right fielder.

It was just last offseason the Cubs went on a $300 million spending spree, the bulk of that on an eight-year, $136 million contract for free agent Alfonso Soriano. Chicago went on to win the NL Central but was swept out of the playoffs in the first round by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

As the team approaches 100 years since last winning a World Series, it appears the Cubs won't allow money to stand in the way of them acquiring talent.

In Fukudome, they have added a needed left-handed bat who can get on base, hit with power, run and play strong defense.

Peavy, Padres reach deal

Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy signed a $52 million, three-year extension, the biggest deal in San Diego Padres history.

The deal was finalized just less than a month after Peavy was the unanimous winner of the NL Cy Young Award.

Giving Peavy the extension now was a no-brainer for the Padres, who fell one victory short of reaching the playoffs for the third straight year. With the Padres on a push to shore up their farm system, it made a lot of sense to lock up a guy who has blossomed after being a 15th-round pick in the June 1999 draft.

"The way we looked at it is, although we may be surprised with a few of the kids in our system that are coming, I don't know if we've earmarked anybody that we think can be the next Jake Peavy, although we've got some fine young arms coming," general manager Kevin Towers said.

Kent stays with Dodgers

Jeff Kent will return to play a fourth season for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The slugger's agent, Jeff Klein, said in an e-mail that his client had advised Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti that he intends to play next year. Kent, who turns 40 in March, is baseball's career leader in home runs by a second baseman.

Kent has 365 career homers and 537 doubles, making him one of 16 major leaguers to reach 350 homers and 500 doubles. He has a lifetime batting average of .290.

Pettitte, Yankees agree

Andy Pettitte and the New York Yankees agreed to a $16 million, one-year contract.

The move was a formality after Pettitte decided to pitch for the Yankees rather than retire, then accepted the team's offer of salary arbitration. The 35-year-old left-hander had turned down a $16 million player option last month, saying he needed more time to make his decision.

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