ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — All-Star second baseman Howie Kendrick agreed to a $33.5 million, four-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels on Monday, passing up a chance to hit the free-agent market after next season.

The move was the latest in a busy offseason spending spree for Angels owner Arte Moreno and new general manager Jerry Dipoto.

The 28-year-old Kendrick batted .285 with a career-best 18 homers and 63 RBIs while committing just four errors in 140 games last year, earning a spot on his first AL All-Star team. He was eligible for arbitration this offseason.

Los Angeles’ payroll will be among the majors’ biggest next season, with about $130 million already committed to 15 players. The Angels signed Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $240 million deal and inked left-hander C.J. Wilson to a five-year, $77.5 million contract last month. Relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins also agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

Dipoto has discussed a long-term contract extension with shortstop Erick Aybar, who also is eligible for arbitration. Third baseman Alberto Callaspo and long-injured first baseman Kendrys Morales also are arbitration-eligible.

Kendrick was among the Angels’ top prospects when he reached the majors in 2006, but his path to a contract extension wasn’t linear.

He had only part-time playing duty in his first three seasons, and the Angels sent him to the minors midway through the 2009 season after a prolonged slump. But Kendrick bounced back solidly late that season, and he has been a dependable everyday player for the past two years.

Kendrick had a career-high 75 RBIs in 2010 while batting .279 and appearing in all but four games for the Angels.

Last season, Kendrick became the Angels’ first All-Star second baseman since Johnny Ray in 1988. He also is valuable for his versatility, occasionally playing first base and even starting 20 games in left field last May while Vernon Wells was injured.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.


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