Chavez agrees to two-year deal

Chavez agrees to two-year deal

NEW YORK -- The Mets' aversion to salary arbitration played out again Tuesday. They avoided a possible arbitration case when they negotiated a two-year deal with Endy Chavez, their primary reserve and perhaps the most dynamic No. 4 outfielder in the National League.

Four days after the club and Chavez exchanged salary proposals, they agreed to a two-year, $3.85 million contract.

Chavez is to earn $1.8 million this year and $2.05 million next. His salary for 2007 was $1,725,000. The proposal he submitted Friday constituted a $350,000 increase. The Mets' proposal was for no raise.

The 29-year-old all-purpose outfielder, a favorite of general manager Omar Minaya and manager Willie Randolph, missed 2 1/2 months last season after he tore his left hamstring, and his absence became a critical factor because of injuries to the other outfielders.

Chavez appeared in 71 games, down from 133 in 2006, batting .287 with 20 runs, seven doubles, two triples, a home run and 17 RBIs in 150 at-bats. He stole five bases. He equalled his career high for hits in one game, four, May 19 against the Yankees, after hitting a game-winning two-run homer against Andy Pettitte the previous night. He also produced the decisive run against the Rockies with a drag bunt in the 12th inning April 24.

"Endy helps us offensively and defensively in a variety of ways," Minaya said in a statement Tuesday. "He plays all three outfield positions well, has good speed and has proved to be a clutch hitter for us."

"I'm excited about coming back," Chavez said. "I missed so much time last year and I can't wait to be a part of things this season and help this team get back to the postseason."

He injured his right hamstring and right ankle sliding into home on Dec. 1 during a Venezuelan Winter League game. As a precaution, he ended his season then.

"I'm fine, 100 percent ready to go," he said. "I can't wait for the first game to get here."

Chavez was one of five Mets who exchanged arbitration figures. The four who have yet to sign are Oliver Perez, Pedro Feliciano, Ryan Church and Jorge Sosa.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.