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Clemens asks Astros for $22 million

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Roger Clemens asked for a salary that matches his uniform number — with a bunch of zeros added on.

Clemens filed for a record $22 million in arbitration on Tuesday, and the Houston Astros offered the seven-time Cy Young Award winner $13.5 million.

The Rocket, who helped lead the Astros within one win of their first World Series last season, still has not decided whether to pitch this year or retire.

"We are proceeding down the arbitration path as if Roger were going to play," Clemens' agent, Randy Hendricks, said. "He has not yet decided whether to play in 2005, but I expect him to do so by Feb. 1 at the latest."

Clemens, who wears No. 22, would be playing his 22nd major league season.

Until now, the highest figure ever submitted for arbitration was $18.5 million in 2001 by New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who then agreed to a $189 million, 10-year deal.

The highest salary ever earned by a pitcher in a season was $17.5 million, last year by Boston's Pedro Martinez.

"We looked at what some of the comparables were — Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson — and we tried to use those star-quality players to come up with a number," Astros general manager Tim Purpura said.

Clemens, 42, left the Yankees after the 2003 season and intended to retire. But after former teammate Andy Pettitte signed with the Astros, Clemens was persuaded to sign with his hometown club.

He took an undermarket deal that guaranteed him $5 million, of which $3.5 million was deferred without interest until July 1, 2006. Clemens earned an additional $1,825,000 in bonuses based on his selection to the NL All-Star team and Houston's home attendance, which was more than 3.3 million, including the postseason.

The $8.5 million spread between his figure and the Astros' was exactly double the previous high in salary arbitration — the Yankees filed at $14.25 million with Jeter in 2001. The midpoint of $17.75 million is just above the highest listed salary for a pitcher this season — Randy Johnson's salary with the New York Yankees is calculated at $16.5 million, including a prorated share of the $1 million personal-services contract he agreed to with the Arizona Diamondbacks before he was traded.

Clemens had a remarkable season, going 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA and 218 strikeouts. As he did last winter, he says he is leaning toward retirement but has not ruled out playing.

With the loss of Carlos Beltran to the New York Mets, Purpura realizes that securing Clemens for another year would bolster the Astros' hopes of reaching the playoffs for the sixth time in nine seasons.

"As I've said all along we're going to wait patiently for his answer," Purpura said. "Having Roger Clemens here is very important to the team, the city and the fans. It would be great to have Roger on board."

Astros outfielder Lance Berkman, who is eligible for free agency after next season, asked for $11 million and the team offered $10 million. The sides might try to work out a multiyear deal. Pitcher Roy Oswalt asked for a raise from $3,425,000 to $7.8 million and was offered $6 million.

Two pitchers asked for more than double what Houston was offering: Tim Redding ($1.4 million vs. $575,000) and Pete Munro ($1.1 million vs. $525,00).

Hearings will be held next month for players who don't agree to settlements.

SANTANA ASKS FOR $6.8 MILLION: AL Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana asked the Minnesota Twins for a raise to $6.8 million in salary arbitration and was offered $5 million.

Santana went 20-6 with a league-leading 2.61 ERA and 265 strikeouts, helping the Twins win their third straight AL Central title. After the All-Star break, Santana went 13-0 with a 1.21 ERA in 15 starts.

The left-hander lost his arbitration case last year and made $1.6 million instead of his $2.45 million request.

BECKETT SIGNS: Florida Marlins right-hander Josh Beckett agreed to a $2.4 million, one-year contract Tuesday, leaving the team with no players in arbitration. The deal represented a 59 percent raise for Beckett despite a disappointing 2004 season.

Florida officials met again with the agent for free-agent slugger Carlos Delgado, who is being courted by four teams.

"The meeting was very productive," agent David Sloane said in an e-mail. "We will be talking with the Marlins again very soon in an effort to further clarify our areas of mutual concern."

OTHER NEWS: The Chicago Cubs agreed to a $12 million, three-year contract with catcher Michael Barrett and one-year deals with center fielder Corey Patterson and reliever Kyle Farnsworth. The Cubs avoided arbitration with all three. Farnsworth got a raise from $1.4 million to $1,975,000. Patterson, who made $480,000 last season, received an increase to $2.8 million. Barrett, who made $1.55 million last season, had asked for $3.9 million in arbitration while the Cubs offered $3 million before the multiyear deal was reached . . . Pitcher Jarrod Washburn agreed to a $6.5 million, one-year contract with the Angels, avoiding arbitration along with pitcher Scot Shields (one-year, $925,000) and catcher Jose Molina (one year, $725,000) . . . Former All-Star shortstop Jimmy Rollins and the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to a $3.85 million, one-year contract, and versatile infielder Placido Polanco also avoided arbitration with a $4.6 million contract for 2005 . . . Infielder Alex Cora agreed to a $2.7 million, two-year contract with Cleveland to fill a utility role. Among other players and teams agreeing to deals were left-hander Rick Ankiel and the St. Louis Cardinals (one year, $400,000); right-hander Brandon Lyon and the Arizona Diamondbacks (one year, $330,000); third baseman Sean Burroughs and the San Diego Padres (one year, $1,675,000); right-hander Jason Jennings (two years, $7 million) and lefty Joe Kennedy (one year, $2.2 million) and the Colorado Rockies; outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. (one year, $1.1 million) and the Texas Rangers; left-hander Ron Villone (two years, $4.2 million) and the Seattle Mariners; Right-hander Luis Vizcaino (one year, $1.3 million) and the Chicago White Sox; second baseman Mark Bellhorn (one year, $2.75 million) and right-hander Bronson Arroyo (one year, $1.85 million) and the Boston Red Sox; outfielder-first baseman Craig Wilson (one year, $3 million) and right-hander Josh Fogg (one year, $2.15 million) and the Pittsburgh Pirates; second baseman Jerry Hairston (one year, $1.8 million) and pitchers Rodrigo Lopez (one year, $2,375,000) and B.J. Ryan (one year, $2.6 million) and the Baltimore Orioles; Closer Octavio Dotel (one year, $4.75 million) and outfielder Bobby Kielty (one year, $875,000) and the Oakland Athletics.