Austin’s New Deal

So much for Austin Kearns going to arbitration.

Kearns and the Nationals agreed to a 3-year deal Thursday afternoon. Kearns will make $3.5 mil in 2007, $5 mil in 2008 and $8 mil in 2009.  With the deal, Kearns avoids arbitration, which was scheduled for Feb. 7. Kearns’ deal has a club option for 2010 worth $10 million or a $1 mil buyout.

Kearns has patrolled right field for Washington since coming over from the Reds in an eight-player trade on July 13, 2006 trade.  Last season, he batted .264 and established career highs with 33 doubles, 24 home runs, 86 RBI and 76 walks in 150 games with Washington and Cincinnati. As a National, Kearns batted .250 with 12 doubles, eight home runs and 36 RBI.
The 150 games were the most played in Kearns’ career.  His previous high was 112 games thanks to injuries.

Kearns will likely assume the cleanup spot while Nick Johnson recovers from a broken femur. Kearns is the third Nationals starter in the last year to avoid arbitration by signing a multi-year deal joining catcher Brian Schneider and first baseman Nick Johnson.
John Patterson and Chad Cordero are the only Nationals eligible for arbitration this month. Patterson’s hearing is scheduled for Feb. 12. Cordero’s is set for Feb. 20.

Nice to see Tony Armas has a new employer.

The Nationals had wanted to sign Kearns to a multi-year deal as the Nationals brass has seen the power-hitting outfielder as a key element to Washington’s future.

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