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01/26/11 5:14 PM EST

Astros lock in Wandy with three-year extension

Contract worth $34 million plus option for '14, avoids arbitration

Wandy Rodriguez will be in Houston for quite a while.

Rodriguez, who turned 32 last week, avoided arbitration when he and the Astros agreed to a new three-year contract Tuesday. The deal, which became official Wednesday after Rodriguez passed his physical, guarantees the left-hander $34 million over the 2011-13 seasons.

The deal contains a vesting option for 2014 that could bring the total value to $44.5 million. If the option for '14 does not vest, it becomes a mutual option -- a $2.5 million buyout if the club declines, no buyout if it is exercised and Rodriguez declines.

Rodriguez and Hunter Pence had been the Astros' only two remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible players. Pence will go to a hearing with the club.

"We're very pleased to get this done," said general manager Ed Wade of Rodriguez's deal. "Wandy is one of the top left-handed starters in the game. With pending free agency and its uncertainty, it made all the sense in the world for us. Wandy made it clear he wants to be a part of the Astros. Now, he'll be here for at least the next three years and hopefully beyond that."

Rodriguez went 11-12 with a 3.60 ERA in 2010. Though it was a third straight strong season, he stepped back a bit in several statistical categories from his outstanding '09. Rodriguez struck out 178 against 68 walks in 195 innings pitched over 32 starts for Houston. Still, over the past two years he has been one of the top left-handed starters in the game.

During that stretch, Rodriguez ranks sixth among Major League lefties in strikeouts, eighth in wins and innings, tied for fifth in starts and fifth in ERA (starters only).

"My experience has really helped me the last two years, knowing the league, and I felt very comfortable the last two years," Rodriguez said through translator Allen Rowin -- the Astros' player development coordinator -- in a conference call on Tuesday.

A year ago, Rodriguez and the Astros actually went to an arbitration hearing, with the club winning the case. Rodriguez received the club's offer of $5 million for the 2010 season rather than his request of $7 million. The experience is never a fun one, and Rodriguez made it clear that he hoped to avoid going through it again.

"I was getting very nervous as it was approaching," he said. "I was looking for multiple years for the last year or so. I'm very happy that we were able to reach this agreement."

The lefty, who hails from the Dominican Republic, has spent his entire professional career in the Houston organization. For his career, he's 62-64 with a 4.18 ERA, 838 strikeouts and 353 walks in 985 innings.

"This is a homegrown player that has been here and worn our uniform proudly and made us proud for a number of years," Wade told reporters in Houston on Tuesday. "And I think to be able to reach out and get a deal done like this, I think it sends a lot of the right signals. At the end of the day, I think the most important thing is we have one of the top left-handed starting pitchers in baseball going out there every fifth day for the next three-plus years -- and we hope the next four and beyond."

Signing Rodriguez ensures that the Astros have four starting pitchers under team control for at least the next two seasons. Right-hander Brett Myers is signed through 2012, while righty Bud Norris and lefty J.A. Happ have yet to reach arbitration eligibility.

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.