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11/30/07 10:00 AM ET

Colon heading to free agency

Halos opt not to offer former Cy Young winner arbitration

ANAHEIM -- The Angels, according to assistant general manager Ken Forsch, are not offering salary arbitration to veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon, releasing the 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner to free agency.

Hampered by injuries, Colon did not pitch enough the past two seasons to qualify for compensation.

He missed most of the 2006 season with a tear in his right rotator cuff, making only 10 starts, and he made 19 appearances (18 as a starter) in '07 while enduring more shoulder issues along with an elbow problem.

The Angels are freeing themselves of a $14 million contract in letting Colon depart. They could have offered no more than a 20 percent cut in salary if they'd offered arbitration.

Colon, 34, was 6-8 with a 6.34 ERA in 2007. He was unable to sustain an excellent start, winning his first five decisions (in six outings) before injuries took a toll. He was 0-6 in his final 12 starts, his last win coming on June 14.

With a 146-95 career record and 4.10 ERA in 309 games, all but three as a starter, Colon is expected to attract interest with an incentive-laden contract. He won an American League-high 21 games during his 2005 Cy Young Award season.

The Angels have until Dec. 12 to reach agreement on contracts or tender offers to five arbitration-eligible players with fewer than six years of Major League service time.

Falling into that category are closer Francisco Rodriguez, first baseman Casey Kotchman, infielder Maicer Izturis, outfielder Juan Rivera and third baseman Dallas McPherson.

Forsch said the organization has gone to arbitration with only two players in his 13 years with the Angels.

"Once they're tendered contracts," Forsch said, "you're locked into the process. We'd like to get something done with all these players before Dec. 12."

Retaining Rodriguez, who will be eligible for free agency after the 2008 season, is a high priority.

"Obviously, we'd love to get a deal done with him," Forsch said, adding that new GM Tony Reagins "will strive to get it done. But that's all I can say at this point."

Hot Stove

Like K-Rod, Kotchman and Izturis were valuable performers for the Angels in their drive to the 2007 American League West title and are expected to play major roles again in 2008.

McPherson took his first steps in a comeback from back surgery when he played in the Arizona Instructional League this fall.

McPherson, 27, went 6-for-25 (.240) with two home runs, four RBIs, eight walks and nine strikeouts. The left-handed-hitting slugger from The Citadel is a .247 career hitter in the Majors with 18 homers and 45 RBIs in 117 games (360 at-bats).

Even though he spent the entire 2007 season on the disabled list, he was gaining service time, making him eligible for arbitration.

Rivera, who missed all but the final month of the season after breaking a leg in winter ball last December, is a .291 career hitter with 60 homers and 233 RBIs in 466 games. He hit .279 with two homers and eight RBIs in 14 games this season.

Rivera is playing in Venezuela again this winter, hitting .300, according to the club's most recent reports.

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