Cubs Sign Pitcher For $15M

Right-hander Jon Lieber, one of the few Chicago Cubs pitchers who didn't get hurt for an extended period this season, agreed Friday to a $15 million, three-year contract.

Lieber, 10-11 with a 4.07 ERA in 31 starts, gets a $1 million signing bonus, $3.5 million next year, $4.75 million in 2001 and $5.5 million in 2002. The Cubs have a $6.25 million option for 2003 with a $250,000 buyout.

"This is something that every player dreams about," Lieber said. "I was very fortunate playing for the Pirates when I did, and this is just as sweet. I'm thankful to the Cubs organization, knowing that they're willing to take care of me and my family."

Lieber had been eligible for salary arbitration and would have been eligible for free agency after next season.

Lieber, 29, made $2.1 million last season. He was acquired by the Cubs from Pittsburgh last December for outfielder Brant Brown after spending four years with the Pirates.

He struck out 186 last season, eighth best in the NL, and pitched a career-high 203 innings.

Cubs pitchers repeatedly got hurt this year. NL Rookie of the Year Kerry Wood missed the entire season with an injury, pitcher after pitcher kept getting hurt.

Lieber, second on the team with 31 starts, did go on the disabled list from April 21 to May 8 with a bruised right eye and two small fractures near his nose. He was hit by a bad throw while standing near second base during batting practice. He was the seventh Cub pitcher to be sidelined with an injury.

Lieber was the seventh Cubs pitcher placed on the DL before the season was even a month old.

"I'm feeling really good," Lieber said, adding "I'll be staying away from baseballs, hopefully until spring."

Lieber said he is looking forward to working for new manager Don Baylor.

"It's going to be interesting. I'll be ready to go and give everything I've got just like the rest of these guys," Lieber said.

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