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Angels sign up Colon; Sheffield deal up in the air

The Anaheim Angels went after starting pitchers, and yesterday landed one of the prime catches in the free agent market.

Bartolo Colon agreed to a $51 million, four-year deal with the Angels, just a couple of weeks after they signed Kelvim Escobar.

Colon, a former 20-game winner who has reached double-digit wins in six consecutive seasons, was guaranteed $51 million in the deal, according to a baseball official who had been told of the deal's parameters. He spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Angels, who won the 2002 World Series then slumped 77-85 last season, still have most of the players from their championship team, and Colon said he likes that.

"I'm happy to be with the new team and have the opportunity to be able to win with them," Colon said, speaking through an interpreter. "I watched them during the World Series."

The Chicago White Sox badly wanted Colon back, reportedly offering him a three-year contract worth a reported $36 million -- the largest ever for a White Sox pitcher. But Colon rejected the offer in October.

Deal hits bump

The Yankees' negotiations with free agent slugger Gary Sheffield have hit a major snag because the outfielder increased his salary demands, which angered owner George Steinbrenner, according to a report in the New York Daily News yesterday.

The paper reported that unnamed baseball sources said Sheffield called Steinbrenner, who has been handling the negotiations, and demanded the deal be increased to $42 million over three years.

The Associated Press said the sides were close on a deal for $39 million over three years, but the Yankees want $15 million of the money deferred without interest, a demand Sheffield is resisting, according to a baseball official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The outfielder wants a no-trade clause, but the Yankees don't want to give it, the official said. Sheffield's agent, Rufus Williams, did not return a telephone by the Associated Press.

Guardardo a Mariner

Eddie Guardado and the Seattle Mariners agreed to a contract that guarantees the closer $13 million over three years. The deal is for 2004 and includes both player and team options for 2005 and 2006. If he earns performance bonuses, he could $17 million over the three seasons. Guardado, who had 41 saves in 45 chances for Minnesota last season, joins a bullpen that includes Kazuhiro Sasaki, who started 2003 as Seattle's closer, and Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who finished the season as closer . . . Righthanded starter John Thomson agreed to a two-year contract with Atlanta, two days after the Braves parted with longtime ace Greg Maddux. Thomson was 13-14 with a 4.85 ERA last season with the Texas Rangers, establishing career highs in wins, starts (35), innings pitched (217), strikeouts (136), and complete games (three). In his final 18 starts, he was 9-5 with a 3.89 ERA . . . Free agent Carl Everett received a contract offer from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. General manager Chuck LaMar declined to discuss specifics of the proposal. The former Red Sox outfielder earned $9.15 million last season with the Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox. The two-time is a .278 career hitter in 11 sometimes turbulent seasons, including stints with the Marlins, Mets, Astros, and Red Sox . . . Former San Francisco Giants closer Tim Worrell agreed to a $5.5 million, two-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. Worrell, 36, was 4-4 with a 2.87 ERA and 38 saves in 45 chances for the NL West champion Giants last year. He took over as San Francisco's closer after three-time All-Star Robb Nen had season-ending shoulder surgery in May. Worrell, who will return to a set-up role, will earn $2.75 million in each of the next two seasons and has the chance to make more in performance bonuses . . . Former Red Sox outfielder Matt Stairs agreed to a $1 million, one-year contract with the Kansas City Royals. The team also signed relief pitcher Scott Sullivan to a two-year contract. Stairs batted .292 for Pittsburgh last season with 20 homers, including a 461-foot drive on April 5, the longest at the Houston Astros' new ballpark. He had 57 RBIs. Stairs has a career .266 batting average with 176 homers. He is third in homers among Canadian-born players, trailing Colorado's Larry Walker (351) and Jeff Heath (194), who played from 1936 to 1949 . . . Mickey Mantle's 1957 American League Most Valuable Player award, one of three MVP honors the baseball Hall-of-Famer won during his career with the Yankees, sold for $275,000 at an auction in New York. The MVP award was among about 300 items put up for sale by Mantle family members . . . Yankees fans will pay an average of 10 percent more next year for their team's high-priced roster. The team announced ticket increases that include sending the cost of field and loge seats -- which include waiter service -- from $72 to $80 next season. Those seats are available only as part of season-ticket plans. The team will have a discount program in which upper reserved seats will cost $14 for all Tuesday games, except the one against the Red Sox.

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