Morneau signs new deal with Twins

Feb. 2, 2007 at 6:27 PM

MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau Friday received a one-year contract from the team, avoiding arbitration.

The 25-year-old Morneau is the reigning American League Most Valuable Player, after batting .321 in the 2006 season with 34 home runs and 130 RBI. He scored 97 runs and committed only eight errors in 1,416 fielding chances.

Morneau, a career .277 hitter, is the third player in franchise history to be named AL MVP, joining Rod Carew (1977) and Harmon Killebrew (1969).

"He's a talented young player, and he's given a good effort as far as working at his game," said General Manager Terry Ryan on the team's Web site. "I think there is a certain maturation that we've seen in Justin."

Three other Twins -- third baseman Nick Punto, outfielder Lew Ford and right-handed pitcher Juan Rincon -- also signed new deals and will avoid arbitration.

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