TEMPE, Ariz. - After regressing during a 2007 season in which he was demoted to Triple-A at one point, right-hander Ervin Santana had his salary cut by $5,000 when the Angels renewed his contract last spring.
Things have changed.
Santana is coming off an All-Star season, during which he had personal bests in victories, innings pitched, strikeouts and ERA, so he and the Angels reached agreement on a four-year, $30-million contract Saturday that includes a team option for 2013 at $13 million or a $1 million buyout.
A scheduled arbitration hearing Friday was postponed when the two sides felt they were making progress toward an agreement.
"I'm very happy. You guys don't even know," Santana said as the Angels opened camp with their first workout for pitchers and catchers Saturday morning. "I just want to keep working hard and prove why I got the contract. That's what I'm going to do."
The agreement allows the Angels to avoid all three years of Santana's arbitration eligibility as well as the first year - and possibly second if the option is exercised - of his free-agency eligibility.
"It stabilizes our rotation," Angels general manager Tony Reagins said. "Ervin has done a tremendous job and we recognized that. To know we're going to have him in the organization for a number of years to come is gratifying and well-deserved."
Santana went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA last season.
The move locks Santana, 26, into a starting rotation fronted by right-hander John Lackey, a potential free agent next winter. The Angels picked up the 2009 option on Lackey this winter at $10million, and Reagins has indicated the team would like to negotiate a multiyear extension with him.
But Reagins said Saturday's signing does not necessarily signal a movement to try to lock up the Angels' corps of young players (Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver, Mike Napoli, Howie Kendrick and others) before they can reach arbitration or free agency.
"We'll look at each situation as it comes and evaluate that, see how it benefits the club and how it benefits the player," Reagins said.
"We just felt this was significant and this was an important decision to make as far as keeping Ervin in the fold through at least one, possibly two, of his free agency years. I don't think we've seen the best of Ervin yet.
"As far as multiyear contracts with other players, we'll take each on a case-by-case basis as it comes."
Santana (16-7 last season) was fourth in the American League innings pitched (219), second in strikeouts (214) and fourth in batting average against (.237).
"I can say that it's all about work," Santana said. "If you work hard, you're going to get your goals. If you keep working hard, you're going to get them and more."
Bowing out: Santana said he has decided not to participate in the World Baseball Classic. He was on the provisional roster for the Dominican Republic but said he had taken some time off since pitching in the Caribbean Series in January and didn't think he could get in shape fast enough to be ready for the early March start of WBC games.
"I decided I have to focus on pitching in the big leagues," Santana said. "Right now, I have a week without playing catch or none of that."
Santana said he made the decision on his own and Manager Mike Scioscia said he had no discussions with Santana about the WBC. The Angels already stepped in and let Lackey (Team USA), Napoli (Italy) and outfielder Vladimir Guerrero (Dominican Republic) know they didn't want them participating in the international event.
Left-hander Joe Saunders was selected to Team USA as Lackey's replacement but backed out over his own concerns that he would not have sufficient time to prepare.
Relievers Brian Fuentes and Scot Shields (USA) and outfielder Bobby Abreu (Venezuela) are expected to participate.
"There's kind of an inherent concern when maybe pitchers don't have enough time," Scioscia said. "It's a shorter offseason and a longer season when you start earlier. ... I think if it was a starting pitcher I'd probably be more concerned. With Shields and Fuentes ... I think they can handle the 20 or so pitches they'll have to throw in a game.
"It's an honor for these guys to be picked and pitch for your country. We certainly support it. But there's a definite need for guys to be coming into camp closer to the shape they need to be in, throwing off the mound."