Rockies re-sign Torrealba to 2-year deal

Yorvit Torrealba is staying in Colorado, agreeing Thursday to a two-year deal worth about $7 million with a mutual option for 2010.

Torrealba, who filed for free agency after helping the Rockies reach the World Series, was set to sign a three-year contract for about twice the money with the New York Mets this month. The Rockies got back into the mix when that deal fell apart and the Mets traded for Johnny Estrada instead.

"I sure thought he was gone to the Mets and now I'm very, very excited to have him back," Colorado general manager Dan O'Dowd told The Associated Press after Torrealba passed his physical Thursday evening. "Yorvit brings an edge to this team, an emotional edge. I thought he took a big step over the second half of the season and the final month and in the playoffs. He's 29 years old. We hope he can continue to make those strides."

The Rockies loved the way Torrealba nurtured young pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales, who filled in when Colorado lost three-fifths of its rotation down the stretch.

"We wouldn't have been able to pitch Ubaldo and Franklin in the playoffs had it not been for Yorvit's handling on these two young pitchers," pitching coach Bob Apodaca said during the World Series. "Yorvit is a big reason we've been able to withstand so many injuries to our staff."

This is the first multiyear contract for Torrealba, who became the Rockies' regular catcher after rookie Chris Iannetta struggled at the plate in the spring.

The Rockies also are making a big push to re-sign reliever Matt Herges, another key contributor in a second-half surge that carried them to their first NL pennant, but they have conceded that another free agent, second baseman Kaz Matsui, won't be back.

Matsui is being courted by the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros.

O'Dowd declined to comment on the negotiations with Herges, who went 5-1 with a 2.96 ERA in 35 games for the Rockies and held left-handed hitters to a .216 batting average and right-handers to a .184 mark.

Torrealba hit .255 with eight home runs and 47 RBIs in 113 games, all career highs. He had some clutch hits in the postseason, knocking in eight runs and hitting the go-ahead, three-run homer in Game 3 of the NL championship series against Arizona, his first postseason home run.

Yet Torrealba, who missed most of 2006 with an injured throwing shoulder, threw out just 13 of 74 base-stealers, including two of his last 32.

O'Dowd said the shoulder wasn't a big issue with team doctors and that Torrealba will undergo a strengthening program for his right shoulder this offseason.

"Our doctors and medical team signed off on it. There's no concerns on our part," O'Dowd said.

With Matsui expected to sign elsewhere, the Rockies will look for a veteran second baseman at the winter meetings that begin Monday in Nashville, Tenn., although they have several in-house candidates including Jamey Carroll, Clint Barmes, Omar Quintanilla, Jeff Baker and Ian Stewart.