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Wang, Atkins, Cust become free agents

NEW YORK - NEW YORK (AP) — Former ace Chien-Ming Wang, power-hitting Jack Cust and slumping third baseman Garrett Arkins joined an already saturated free agent market when they weren't offered contracts for next year by their teams on Saturday.

Closers Mike MacDougal and Matt Capps along with starter Tim Redding were also among 39 players allowed to go free. All but 12 of them would have been eligible for salary arbitration if they had been offered contracts.

The Los Angeles Angels let loose Jose Arredondo amid reports he needed Tommy John surgery and would miss all of next season.

Fourteen other players agreed to one-year contracts, including three Kansas City pitchers and three players on the Tampa Bay Rays.

Teams can re-sign players they let go, and the rule limiting salary cuts to 20 percent does not apply after they become free.

In a slow-moving market, just 32 of the 171 players who filed for free agency after the World Series are known to have agreements for next season.

Others let go included Cincinnati outfielder Jonny Gomes; Chicago White Sox reliever D.J. Carrasco; Atlanta outfielder Ryan Church and second baseman Kelly Johnson; Boston outfielder Brian Anderson; Mets outfielders Jeremy Reed and Cory Sullivan; and Phillies pitcher Clay Condrey.

Among players recovering from surgery, Chicago Cubs left-hander Neal Cotts, Milwaukee right-hander Mark DiFelice and Washington left-hander Scott Olsen were let loose. DiFelice was not eligible for arbitration.

While more than 200 players were eligible for arbitration during the World Series, Saturday's moves left about 150 remaining.

Arbitration-eligible players agreeing to contracts, including the trio of Royals: Brian Bannister ($2.3 million), Kyle Davies ($1.8 million) and Roman Colon ($665,000 in majors and $240,000 in minors).

The three Rays getting deals were catcher Dioner Navarro ($2.1 million), right-hander Lance Cormier ($1.2 million) and left-hander Randy Choate ($700,000).

Also agreeing were San Diego right-hander Kevin Correia ($3.6 million), Atlanta outfielder Matt Diaz ($2.55 million), Pittsburgh infielder Ronny Cedeno ($1,125,000), Florida catcher Ronny Paulino ($1.1 million), Baltimore right-handers Cla Meredith ($850,000) and Matt Albers ($680,000 in majors and $275,000 in minors), newly acquired Boston pitcher Boof Bonser ($650,000) and Texas infielder Esteban German ($600,000/$200,000).

Wang, a 29-year-old right-hander, was a 19-game winner in 2006 and 2007, starting the Yankees' postseason openers in both years. He hasn't been the same since severely injuring his right foot while running the bases at Houston on June 15, 2008.

"We're disappointed. We'll obviously consider all offers as a free agent, as all free agents do," said Wang's agent, Alan Nero.

Wang wound up 1-6 with a 9.64 ERA this year and Dr. James Andrews repaired a tear in the right shoulder capsule on July 29. Wang is not expected to be able to pitch until sometime between April and June.

He made $5 million this year, a $1 million raise over his salary in 2008, when he lost in arbitration.

"There's no doubt that we had to make a tough decision," general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement. "We are still hopeful that our relationship can continue, but those decisions are yet to be made."

Cust hit .240 with 25 homers and 70 RBIs for Oakland last season, when he made $2.8 million. He struck out 195 times, becoming the first player to lead in the AL in three straight seasons since Minnesota's Bobby Darwin from 1972-74. Cust whiffed 164 times in 2007 and 197 times in 2008.

He had 26 homers in 2007 and 33 the following year, and has topped Oakland for three consecutive seasons in homers, strikeouts and walks (93 last season).

Atkins, who turned 30 on Saturday, has spent his entire seven-year major league career with the Rockies. The third baseman batted .226 this year with nine homers and 48 RBIs after hitting .286 with 21 homers and 99 RBIs in 2008. Atkins, who made $7.05 million, lost the third-base job to Ian Stewart by the end of the season.

Atkins had a career-high 29 homers and 120 RBIs in 2006, when he was fourth in the NL with a .329 average, and batted .301 with 25 homers and 111 RBIs the following year.

Colorado also has reached a preliminary agreement on a $8.3 million, three-year contract with catcher Chris Iannetta, a deal that includes a $5 million club option for 2013 with a $500,000 buyout.

MacDougal, an All-Star for Kansas City in 2003, had 20 saves in 21 chances for Washington and went 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA. He was released by the Chicago White Sox on April 29 with a 12.46 ERA through five appearances and signed by the Nationals on May 3. Chicago remained responsible for most of his $2.65 million salary.

MacDougal has 70 saves in eight major league seasons. Capps had 27 saves for Pittsburgh last season despite a 5.80 ERA.

The 30-year-old Gomes, who spent his first six major league seasons with Tampa Bay, hit .267 with 20 homers and 51 RBIs for Cincinnati. He started the season at Triple-A Louisville and was brought up May 22.


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