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Astros Give Biggio $28M Deal


The Houston Astros accomplished their No. 1 offseason goal Thursday, signing Craig Biggio to a $28 million, three-year contract extension that makes him the highest-paid player in club history.

"This sets the tone for the offseason," general manager Gerry Hunsicker said. "It was important to get this done now. We targeted this as our most important move. He said it was very important to us to get this done. You are talking about a very special player. He probably means as much as any player in the history of this franchise."

Biggio, a seven-time All-Star who has spent his entire major league career in Houston, will earn $5 million next season. He'll get a $7 million signing bonus, $6 million in 2001, $7 million in 2002 and $8 million in 2003.

The signing bonus is spread out over several years, with $1 million due Jan. 15 in each of the next four years, and $3 million payable on Jan. 15, 2004.

Biggio's $8 million average annual salary matches Cleveland's Roberto Alomar as the highest among second basemen.

Biggio, 33, hit .294 with 16 homers, 73 RBIs, 28 steals and a club-record 56 doubles this year, becoming only the sixth player ever with 50 or more doubles in consecutive seasons. He has been with the Astros since they took him on the first round of the 1987 amateur draft.

"Not a lot of guys get to play their whole careers with one team because of the economics of the game," Biggio said. "I was an East Coast kid, 21 years old, and I survived 13 years in Texas. Now I have a few more, and you couldn't ask for a better situation. I can't think of a better time to be wearing an Astros uniform."

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  • Hunsicker still has plenty of work to do. Three other key players, pitcher Mike Hampton, and outfielders Carl Everett and Derek Bell, are eligible for free agency after next season.

    "I'm not going to the winter meetings trying to trade them, but I would not be doing my job if I didn't explore our options," Hunsicker said.

    He's also working on a contract extension for manager arry Dierker, but the two sides have not agreed after three meetings.

    "I made a proposal for an extension I thought was fair and it didn't fly," Dierker said. "Maybe I should get an agent."

    Dierker said his contract status would not be a distraction if he doesn't get an extension before spring training.

    "We'll go to spring training and start the season," he said. "I'll be pleased and thrilled to go into that stadium under any circumstances."

    The Astros will open the 2000 season in their new retractable-roofed ballpark downtown.

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