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02/19/09 3:45 PM EST

Francoeur, Braves avoid arbitration

Outfielder now can focus on Spring Training, upcoming season

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jeff Francoeur won't need to board his scheduled flight on Thursday morning. Nor will he have to experience the arbitration hearing that had seemed destined to take place.

Francoeur and the Braves avoided arbitration late Wednesday night when they agreed to terms on a one-year, $3.375 million contract, which includes incentives that could push his earnings this year to $3.4 million.

The $3.375 million base salary represents the midpoint of the arbitration figures the two parties exchanged in January. Francoeur was seeking $3.95 million, and Atlanta offered $2.8 million.

"I'm excited to have this done and have it behind me so that I can just look forward to the season," Francoeur said. "Now I can look past last year and not have to hear about it anymore."

Believing he was going to have to attend his arbitration hearing in Phoenix on Friday, Francoeur was planning to board a Thursday morning flight out of Orlando, Fla. If an agreement hadn't been reached, he would have missed at least two days worth of Spring Training workouts.

Realizing the importance of Francoeur bouncing back from a disappointing 2008 season, during which he hit .239 with 11 home runs, a .294 on-base percentage and a .359 slugging percentage, the Braves weren't excited about the possibility that his psyche would be shaken by the arguments they'd have presented during the arbitration hearing.

"You always want to avoid those hearings whenever you can," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "Now we can just focus on getting ready for the season."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.