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Angels come to 2010 contract terms with several key young players

March 4, 2010 |  1:45 pm

Kevin TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels have agreed to terms on 2010 contracts with four of their prominent young players, avoiding the sometimes contentious "renewal" process with relievers Kevin Jepsen and Jason Bulger, pitcher Matt Palmer and infielder Brandon Wood.

Reliever Brian Stokes, the 30-year-old right-hander acquired from the New York Mets for Gary Matthews Jr. this winter, and minor league reliever Rafael Rodriguez also came to terms. However, reliever Rich Thompson, who has spent most of the last three seasons at triple-A Salt Lake, had his contract renewed Thursday, the day the Angels set as a deadline to sign players on their 40-man roster.

Jepsen and Bulger emerged as key relievers last season, Jepsen going 6-4 with a 4.94 earned run average in 54 games and Bulger going 6-1 with a 3.56 ERA in 64 games, and Palmer helped boost a rotation reeling from the death of Nick Adenhart and injuries to John Lackey and Ervin Santana, going 11-2 with a 3.93 ERA in 40 games, 13 of them starts.

Wood, the organization's top prospect for several years, will challenge for the starting third-base job this spring and is expected to see considerable playing time there this season, even if he has to share the spot with Maicer Izturis.

When players with less than three years of big-league experience can't come to terms, teams can unilaterally renew their contracts at a salary the team chooses. This can create animosity between players -- think Jarrod Washburn, who had his contract renewed twice by the Angels -- their agents and the teams, which sometimes affects future negotiations between the sides.

-- Mike DiGiovanna

Photo: Kevin Jepsen. Credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times