Delgado, Marlins agree on a $52 million deal


Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 at 11:58 p.m.
MIAMI - Carlos Delgado wanted to play for a contender, and the Florida Marlins look like one now.
Delgado agreed Tuesday to a $52 million, four-year contract. The deal, which includes an option year making it potentially worth $64 million over five seasons, is contingent on Delgado passing a physical today.
With the addition of the free-agent first baseman, Florida becomes perhaps the team to beat in the NL East.
''It's a spectacular day for the franchise,'' owner Jeffrey Loria said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. ''I'm going to spring training tomorrow. I'm not waiting.''
The Marlins won the World Series in 1997 and 2003 but still are seeking their first division title. They also want to win support for a new ballpark.
''We're about trying to be a very competitive ballclub, and the stadium will take of itself in due time,'' Loria said. ''But Carlos certainly is not going to hurt that effort.''
The Marlins landed the most formidable left-handed power hitter in their 12-season history, and it took the franchise's richest per-season deal to do it. Florida won out over the New York Mets, Texas and Baltimore.
The Mets also made a $52 million, four-year offer, of which $2 million was the buyout of a fifth-year option. Delgado's side calculated that in present-day value, New York's offer was worth $30,000 more than Florida's.
''From day one, we have told everyone that Carlos would make his choice based on where he felt he had the best chance to win a World Series,'' wrote his agent, David Sloane, in an e-mail. ''I'm proud to say that is exactly why he made the choice he made.''
Delgado receives just $4 million this year but makes $13.5 million in 2006, $14.5 million in 2007 and $16 million in 2008, according to terms obtained by the AP. The agreement includes a $16 million option for 2009 that would become guaranteed based on how Delgado does in MVP voting and whether he earns postseason MVP awards.
If the option year doesn't become guaranteed, Florida would have the right to exercise a $12 million option. If the option is declined, Delgado would get a $4 million buyout.
The Marlins made an initial offer of $35 million for three years, then went even higher to win the bidding. The contract will push their payroll above $56 million for the first time.
Delgado, 32, batted .269 with 32 homers and 99 RBIs last season. He also drew attention for protesting the U.S.-Iraq war by refusing to stand when ''God Bless America'' was played at ballparks across the majors.
He hit at least 30 homers each of the past eight seasons, all with Toronto.
''He's got numbers that are quite spectacular,'' Loria said. ''It's always 30 to 40-something home runs, always 100-plus RBIs, and it's a presence and a kind of person we like to have on this ballclub.''
The Marlins were 11th in the NL in runs and 12th in homers last year. Their top left-handed hitter, Juan Pierre, totaled three home runs.
Even so, Florida was in the race for a wild-card berth until mid-September, finishing 83-79, 13 games behind division winner Atlanta. The team lost ace Carl Pavano and closer Armando Benitez to free agency but added veteran left-hander Al Leiter and has slotted Guillermo Mota to be the closer.
The lineup will include Pierre, Luis Castillo, All-Stars Miguel Cabrera, Mike Lowell and Paul Lo Duca - and now Delgado. A news conference was tentatively set for Thursday.
Florida sealed the deal 10 days after Delgado flew from his native Puerto Rico to Miami and spent 5 hours with team officials, including Loria.
Under the agreement, the option year would become guaranteed if Delgado accumulates 30 points in the next four years. He would get 10 points for winning the NL MVP award, nine for finishing second and so on under a formula that gives him one point for finishing 10th. He would get 20 points if he's the World Series MVP and 10 if he's the league championship series MVP.
Texas withdrew its $48 million, four-year offer on Sunday. The Orioles also offered $48 million over four years.
''We went above and beyond where we felt comfortable to push it to a resolution in our favor,'' Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie said. ''We're disappointed. People will classify this as a failure, but it's not for lack of effort.''
Sloane was happy all the negotiations were over.
''If I was going to have a book written about this, it would be tough to choose the author between Hunter S. Thompson and Dr. Seuss,'' he said.

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