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Brewers notes: Team signs Villanueva but let Sheets go

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MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee Brewers have avoided arbitration with reliever Carlos Villanueva - and they agreed yesterday to a one-year contract worth 950-thousand dollars.

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Assistant general manager Gord Ash said Villanueva's service is comparable to several other pitchers who got about the same salary - including Sean Marshall of the Cubs and Zach Miner of Detroit.

Villanueva more than doubled his 447-thousand-dollar salary from last year, when he went 3-and-7 with a four-point-eight-four ERA. He had 15 straight scoreless relief appearances in the first half of the season. The Brewers only have one player still facing salary arbitration, right-fielder Corey Hart.

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Brewers' general manager Doug Melvin says Ben Sheets is great when he's healthy. But as Sheets comes off major elbow surgery, Melvin said the Brewers' budget just wasn't big enough to take the risk to sign him at the money the right-hander wanted.

Yesterday, Sheets got that money when he signed a one-year deal with Oakland for $10-million, plus two-million for incentives.

The 31-year-old Sheets sat out the 2009 season after having surgery to repair to torn flexor tendon near his right pitching elbow. Sheets says the elbow is fine now - and A's general manager Billy Beane said the four-time All-Star keeps himself in great shape.

Sheets went 86-and-83 in his eight years with Milwaukee, and he has the team record for strikeouts with 12-hundred-six. Sheets said it would have been nice to play his whole career with the Brewers - but it just didn't work out. Sheets turned down salary arbitration after the 2008 season. He almost signed with Texas a year ago, but he failed a physical and opted for surgery.

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