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Angels Give Vaughn $80M Deal

Mo Vaughn is leapfrogging Mike Piazza to become the highest-paid player in baseball.

Vaughn, one of the most powerful left-handed hitters, agreed Wednesday to an $80 million, six-year contract with the Anaheim Angels, The Associated Press learned.

Vaughn's new deal, which includes a club option for 2005, has an average annual value of $13.33 million, topping the $13 million Piazza will average under his new $91 million, seven-year contract with the New York Mets. Piazza, however, still has the contract with the most total guaranteed dollars.

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There was no immediate announcement of the deal but it was confirmed by two sources who spoke on the condition they not be identified.

The first baseman, who turns 31 next month, hit .337 this year with 40 homers and 115 RBIs, making $6.6 million. He had been negotiating off and on with the Red Sox for the past year, but Boston ended talks Nov. 11 after Vaughn rejected a $62.5 million, five-year offer.

Vaughn, who lives outside Boston in Easton, Mass., had been with the Red Sox organization since he started his professional career in 1989.

With the addition of Vaughn, Anaheim anticipates moving Darin Erstad from first base to the outfield. It's unlikely Erstad or Tim Salmon will be traded, leaving center fielder Jim Edmonds or right fielder Garret Anderson likely to be swapped for a pitcher. Edmonds has been the subject of trade rumors for some time.

The Angels have been known as penny-pinchers for years, and reportedly turned down an opportunity to acquire Mark McGwire during the 1997 season. McGwire had said he wanted to play for the Angels because his son, Matthew, lives nearby with his ex-wife.

The Angels' history with free agents is not good. The list includes Eddie Murray, Randy Velarde, Cecil Fielder, Ken Hill, Omar Olivares, Shawn Boskie and Scott Sandeson.

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