Baseball players are rushing to avoid arbitration almost as fast as they filed for it.

Ron Darling and the New York Mets agreed to a three-year contract for $5.3 million on Monday and seven others agreed to one-year deals, reducing the players in salary arbitration to 68."It feels great," Darling said. "When you're a little kid you think about becoming a baseball player and making a lot of money."

Meanhile, Billy Hatcher, Juan Agosto and Jim Deshaies agreed to contracts with the Houston Astros.

Hatcher, an outfielder, settled for $495,000, a $255,000 raise. Agosto, a left-handed pitcher, agreed to $480,000, a raise of $277,500. Deshaies, also a left-hander, settled for $470,000, a raise of $237,500.

Two Seattle Mariners settled Monday. Third baseman Jim Presley agreed to $595,000, a $12,500 raise. Catcher Dave Valle settled for $290,000, a $125,000 raise.

New York Yankees catcher Joel Skinner settled for $200,000, a $90,000 raise and left-hander Juan Nieves of the Milwaukee Brewers agreed to $370,000, a $175,000 raise.

Hearings begin Wednesday when outfielder Dion James and the Atlanta Braves are scheduled to argue before arbitrator Daniel Collins in New York. Shortstop Dickie Thon of the Philadelphia Phillies, first baseman Steve Balboni of the Seattle Mariners and outfielder Albert Hall of the Braves are up next, facing arbitrators on Thursday.

Also Monday, the Philadelpia Phillies signed free-agent left-hander Larry McWilliams to a one-year contract plus an option for 1990. McWilliams was the 61st of the 77 free agents to sign for the 1989 season.

Darling, who accepted a $100,000 cut to $1 million in 1988, had asked for $1.725 million.