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01/15/11 3:10 PM EST

Cardinals avoid arbitration with McClellan

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals announced on Saturday that they have agreed to a one-year contract with reliever Kyle McClellan, avoiding arbitration. The club did not disclose McClellan's salary.

McClellan, 26, is coming off his best year in the Major Leagues. The right-hander posted a 2.27 ERA in 75 1/3 innings, striking out 60 against 23 walks in 68 appearances. He set personal bests in ERA, games finished, strikeouts and WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched). He made $425,000 in 2010, but was due for a raise from that in his first year of arbitration eligibility.

"Obviously, avoiding a hearing room was something that we felt was very important," general manager John Mozeliak said on Saturday. "It was something that over the last week we've worked a lot on to try to get to where we are today. I'm pleased that we were able to work this out. Certainly, he's accomplished a lot over the last three years."

McClellan has established himself as a pivotal part of the Cardinals' bullpen. After competing for a rotation spot in each of the past two seasons, he will be limited to relief duty only for '11.

"When you think about how arbitration is defined, length and consistency is always one of the key components," Mozeliak said. "And I think the one thing you would all agree, that's something he displayed over the first three years of his career. Really happy for him and his family and I know he's excited about it, as well."

Mozeliak said that the club and McClellan's agent had some conversation about the possibility of a multi-year deal, but that those talks didn't get very far.

The Cardinals have not gone to an arbitration hearing since 1999, when they won their case against left-hander Darren Oliver.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.