Sun, Dec 19, 2004 - Page 23 News List

Seattle seals Beltre deal

AMERICAN BASEBALL Slugger third baseman Adrian Beltre signed a US$64 million, five-year contract with the Mariners

AP , SEATTLE, WASHINGTONAP, NEW YORK

The latest addition to the Seattle Mariners, free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, answers questions from the media during a news conference at Safeco Field in seattle, Washington on Friday. The Mariners announced they both agreed to terms on a five year contract.

PHOTO: AP

The Seattle Mariners already are making good on a promise to improve the American League's most anemic offense.

Adrian Beltre signed a US$64 million, five-year contract with the Mariners on Friday, joining Seattle two days after another free agent slugger, Richie Sexson, agreed to a four-year, US$50 million deal.

Seattle finished a distant last in the American League West this past season, going 63-99 for its worst record since 1983. The Mariners were last in the league with only 136 homers and 698 runs.

"Actions speak louder than words," team chairman Howard Lincoln said. "We've just demonstrated that we were dead serious about turning things around as quickly as possible. I don't think there was any hesitation to make these large financial commitments."

Beltre passed a physical, the final step before completing the deal. The third baseman said it was tough to leave the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he spent the first seven years of his career, but felt Seattle was a better fit for his family.

"It's a great opportunity," Beltre said. "It's a great baseball city and a great organization. They're going to have a great team. They want to be competitive here sooner rather than later."

The 25-year-old Beltre led the majors last season with 48 homers for the Dodgers. He hit .334 with 121 RBIs, finished second to Barry Bonds in the NL MVP voting and also improved on defense by committing only 10 errors.

He is one of 36 players in baseball history with 100 home runs before turning 25. He hit No. 100 on April 6, joining Cal Ripken Jr. and Lou Gehrig as the three players with exactly 100 homers on their 25th birthday.

Beltre said Boston made him an offer but urged him to decide quickly, then signed Edgar Renteria. The Dodgers also tried to keep him, but Beltre rejected a guaranteed sixth year because he wants to be a free agent again at age 30.

"He turned down a great deal of guaranteed money to come to Seattle," agent Scott Boras said.

Beltre said he isn't concerned about switching to the American League. He doesn't worry his numbers could drop at Safeco Field, pointing out he's already been playing in a pitcher's ballpark at Dodger Stadium.

"We've played in some American League parks," Beltre said. "I didn't really keep stats on it, but I don't really think it will be hard to adjust."

Seattle also spoke with Carlos Delgado, but that would have required Sexson to move from first base to left field.

Beltre made US$5 million last season, and figured to cash in after a career year in which he led the Dodgers to the NL West division title and their first postseason spot since 1988.

He became a free agent after the season, filing on the same day he had arthroscopic surgery to remove two large bone spurs from his left ankle.

The New York Yankees, Arizona and Los Angeles spent Friday trying to put the finishing touches on the megadeal that would move All-Stars Randy Johnson, Shawn Green and Javier Vazquez.

A day after the three teams quickly put the major players in place, the clubs worked to resolve the issues still holding up the trade -- money, mostly.

Even if there is an agreement to put Johnson in a Yankee pinstripes uniform, New York plans to ask for a 72-hour window to negotiate a contract extension with the Big Unit before completing the swap, a baseball source told AP on the condition of anonymity.

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