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Jays sign Villanueva, Morrow and others wait

Brandon Morrow and Casey Janssen are likely headed to an arbitration hearing with the Toronto Blue Jays next month after failing to reach agreement on a 2012 contract prior to Tuesday’s salary figure exchange deadline.

Second baseman Kelly Johnson ($6.375 million), outfielder Ben Francisco ($1,537,500) and swingman Carlos Villanueva ($2,277,500) each signed deals shortly before they would have had to trade numbers, but Morrow, who earned US$2.3 million last year, and Janssen, who made US$1.095 million, couldn’t find enough common ground with the club.

That sets them up to become the first Blue Jays to go to arbitration since reliever Bill Risley in 1997, as general manager Alex Anthopoulos’s policy is that once figures are exchanged, the club will go to a hearing unless a multiyear deal can be worked out.

Jose Bautista’s salary 2011 was nearly decided through arbitration but the team and his agent requested extra time to work out a long-term agreement. They worked out a US$65-million, five-year pact shortly afterwards.

Arbitration hearings will be held Feb. 1-21 in St. Petersburg, Fla.