Bucs sign third baseman Bautista

Bucs sign third baseman Bautista

PITTSBURGH -- Third baseman Jose Bautista agreed to a one-year contract with the Pirates on Thursday, thereby avoiding arbitration in his first year of eligibility. The deal is worth $1.8 million.

Bautista is set to begin his second full season as the team's starting third baseman after beating out Jose Castillo for the position last spring. The 27-year-old Bautista hit .254 with 15 homers, 63 RBIs and 75 runs scored in 2007. Defensively, he ranked fifth in the National League with a .958 fielding percentage.

Typically, players become arbitration eligible for the first time after three seasons in the Majors. However, Bautista, who made $397,500 in 2007, was arbitration-eligible this year under the "Super Two" caveat. To become arbitration eligible under the "Super Two" rule, a player must rank in the top 17 percent of all players who have between two and three years of Major League service time and who accumulated at least 86 days of service time in their most recent season.

With Bautista and Adam LaRoche having agreed to terms on one-year deals this week, the Pirates now have three arbitration-eligible players left unsigned. Right fielder Xavier Nady, left-handed reliever John Grabow and second baseman Freddy Sanchez all have until Friday to agree to a contract for 2008, otherwise the two sides will then exchange figures.

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