Long-term Peralta deal soon?

Peralta, Tribe open Spring Training talks window

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- The Indians could have shortstop Jhonny Peralta signed to a long-term contract within a matter of weeks.

Bill Rego, Peralta's agent, said he met with the team Friday and began talks about a contract.

"The odds are very favorable [that a long-term deal will happen]," Rego said. "We had very positive and flexible dialogue."

The two sides agreed to terms on a one-year contract last week, but general manager Mark Shapiro told reporters Thursday that he was willing to consider ripping up that contract to make room for a longer commitment to the 23-year-old shortstop.

Both sides, though, have a self-imposed deadline for the deal to occur. It would have to happen by the end of Spring Training, or else talks won't continue until after the 2006 season.

"I don't want [talks about] a multiyear deal to distract Jhonny," Rego said. "[The Indians] have expressed the same."

Rego would not get into specifics as far as the number of years or the figures being discussed.

"It would be right in the neighborhood of what the Indians have historically done in the past, as far as multitude of years," he said. "If you look at the C.C. Sabathia deal, the Victor Martinez deal and the Travis Hafner deal, it's within the realm and within the protocol of those three."

In April of 2005, Sabathia was signed to a two-year contract extension through 2008, Hafner was signed to a three-year deal with an option for '08 and Martinez was signed to a five-year deal with an option for 2010.

By locking up their young talent with long-term contracts, the Indians are following the same blueprint that helped them put together two World Series teams in the 1990s.

Peralta is coming off his first full Major League season. He replaced fan favorite Omar Vizquel at short and broke out with a .292 average, 24 home runs and 78 RBIs.

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In the field, Peralta had some early struggles, making four errors in the season's first four games. But he settled down some as the season wore on, committing a total of 10 errors from June 14 through the end of the season.

When the subject of a long-term contract was broached, Peralta said he's definitely interested in staying with the organization.

"I feel happy they're doing it for me," he said.

Rego seemed to believe the deal could be done soon.

"As of Friday, things are progressing very, very rapidly," he said. "Hopefully within the next week or so, we'll have a good idea what direction we're going toward. We're in favor of the idea, as long as it's valuable to both the Indians and Jhonny."

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