ESPN will start a series of Monday night baseball broadcasts and gain greater flexibility to move games to Sunday nights under a new eight-year contract worth $2.368 billion.

The agreement, which was announced yesterday and will run through 2013, will allow ESPN to have a team appear on its exclusive Sunday night games up to five times a season, up from 11 over a three-season span under the six-year contract that is expiring.

Baseball is getting $200 million from ESPN in the final season of its current deal.

The league will average $296 million under the new agreement, a television and a baseball official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of a confidentiality agreement in the deal. ESPN will pay baseball $273.5 million in 2006, $293.5 million in each of the next four years, $308.5 million in 2011 and $306 million in each of the final two seasons.

"You worry about oversaturation, but this is a sport that its fans follow and live on a day-by-day basis," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "I do not worry that this will produce a glut."

Baseball's six-year contract with Fox, which runs through 2006, is worth about $2.5 billion. In addition, Selig and his staff have been planning to launch baseball's own cable network next year.

Baseball is in the first year of a six-year contract with ESPN radio that averages $11 million, a six-year Internet deal with ESPN that averages $30 million and an 11-year agreement with XM satellite radio that averages $60 million.

-- From News Services