TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Right-hander Ramon Ortiz and the Cincinnati Reds agreed Friday to a $3.55 million, one-year contract, avoiding the last scheduled salary arbitration hearing of the year.

Just three cases went to hearings among the 89 players who filed last month, the fewest cases since arbitration began in 1974. Owners defeated players 2-1, management's ninth straight winning record. Minnesota's Kyle Lohse won, and Kansas City's Jeremy Affeldt and Oakland's Juan Cruz lost.

Previously, the fewest arbitration cases was five, in 1997 and 2002. Owners lead players 265-198 overall.

Cincinnati obtained Ortiz on Dec. 14 from the Anaheim Angels for right-hander Dustin Moseley and plan to use him in the starting rotation. Ortiz, 31, alternated between the rotation and the bullpen for the Angels last year, going 5-7 with a 4.43 ERA in 14 starts and 20 relief appearances.

Prior to 2004, Ortiz had made all 123 of his major league appearances as a starter.

His contract includes a $4.55 mutual option for 2006 that would carry a buyout of $100,000 if he makes 20 starts this year, $175,000 if he makes 26 starts and $250,000 if he makes 32 starts.

Ortiz must decide within 10 days of the last game of the World Series whether to exercise the option, and if he exercises it, the team would have 72 hours to make its decision.

The sides had been scheduled for a hearing Friday in Tampa. Ortiz, coming off a $6.25 million, three-year contract, had asked for $4 million and been offered $3.45 million.