Willis agrees to $6.45 million, 1-year deal

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MIAMI (AP) – Florida Marlins ace Dontrelle Willis agreed Monday to a one-year contract for $6.45 million, a hefty salary for the team with the lowest payroll in the major leagues by far last year.

The deal represents a 48 percent increase over Willis’ salary of $4.35 million in 2006. He went 12-12 with a 3.87 ERA in 223 1-3 innings.

The Marlins’ payroll of $15 million last year figures to rise considerably if they keep Willis and slugger Miguel Cabrera, who is eligible for arbitration for the first time. Cabrera’s pay could climb to the $6 million after he made $472,000 last year.

Willis avoided arbitration with his agreement.

In 2005, Willis led the major leagues with 22 wins and finished second in the NL Cy Young Award balloting. He was NL Rookie of the Year in 2003, when the Marlins beat the New York Yankees in the World Series.

In 127 starts since being called up from Double-A Carolina in 2003, Willis is 58-39 with a 3.44 ERA.

He can earn a $50,000 bonus if he makes 32 starts this year. He made 34 in 2006.

AP-ES-01-15-07 1910EST

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