FORMER PHILLIES centerfielder Aaron Rowand signed a minor league contract with the Miami Marlins and will contend for a job as a backup outfielder.

Rowand, 34, hit .233 with four homers in 108 games for San Francisco last season. His best year was in 2007 with the Phillies, when he hit .309 with 27 homers and 89 RBI before leaving as a free agent.

If Rowand is added to the 40-man roster, he'll receive the major league minimum $480,000, which would be offset from the $12 million owed in the final season of 5-year, $60 million deal from which the Giants released him in September.

In other baseball news:

 * Milwaukee agreed to terms with free-agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez, agent Paul Kinzer said. Later in the day, the Brewers traded third baseman Casey McGehee to Pittsburgh for reliever Jose Veras.

Ramirez, 33, will provide a much-needed big bat for the Brewers, who are expected to lose first baseman Prince Fielder through free agency and might be without NL MVP Ryan Braun for the first 50 games of next season if he loses his appeal for testing positive for a banned substance. Ramirez batted .306 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI for the Cubs last season.

Also, the Brewers finalized their 1-year contract with free-agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez, a deal that includes an option for 2013 that could become guaranteed. Gonzalez, 34, batted .241 with 15 home runs and 56 RBI with Atlanta last season.

* The New York Mets' owners recently got a $40 million loan to help with cash flow, a year after getting a $25 million loan from Major League Baseball. The recent loan came in the last 6 weeks from a major bank. The Mets have been plagued by the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme and general manager Sandy Alderson has said the team lost $70 million. The Mets called the recent transaction a "bridge loan" to help them while they seek to sell minority shares of the club.

* Deidre Pujols, wife of new Angels slugger Albert Pujols, said on a St. Louis radio show that she and Albert had hoped to stay there but were turned off by the Cardinals' offers.

The Cardinals reopened talks earlier this month with a five-year, $130 million bid that eventually grew to 10 years guaranteed for $210 million but included significant deferred money, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The Angels landed Pujols with a 10-year, $254 million bid free of deferred money and packed with enough milestone incentives to make the deal worth upwards of $280 million.

Pujols went on to say that she has been surprised that many folks in St. Louis have "turned on us so quickly."

In other Cardinals news, shortstop Rafael Furcal agreed to a 2-year, $14 million contract, pending a physical.

* Colorado agreed to a 2-year deal with veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez, who played the last three seasons with Cincinnati and batted .282 with 12 home runs and 36 RBI last season. Hernandez will compete for the starting job with Wilin Rosario and Jordan Pacheco.

* Kansas City lefthander Aaron Laffey, Chicago Cubs catcher Koyie Hill and Washington lefthander Doug Slaten became free agents after their teams declined to offer 2012 contracts. Also set loose were Colorado outfielders Ryan Spilborghs and Cole Garner, and Detroit second baseman Will Rhymes.

Clubs had until midnight last night to offer contracts to unsigned players on their 40-man rosters. In the hours before the deadline, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. agreed to a 1-year, $2 million contract. Also getting 1-year deals were Houston catcher Humberto Quintero ($1 million), Toronto righthanders Jesse Litsch ($975,000) and Dustin McGowan ($600,000), Angels pitcher Jerome Williams and Brewers catcher George Kottaras.

* Houston catcher Jason Castro had surgery on his left foot and is expected to need 3 months to recover.

* Miami traded righthander Burke Badenhop to Tampa Bay for minor league catcher Jake Jefferies.