D'Backs Keep Anderson

Brian Anderson, the first player taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the expansion draft two years ago, signed an $11 million, three-year contract Friday.

The deal, which gives Anderson the chance to earn $1.25 million each year in performance bonuses, avoids an arbitration hearing scheduled for next month.

"My wife and I decided this is where we want to be," Anderson said. "With a three-year deal, it looks as if the Diamondbacks feel the same way, and that's nice. It's nice to be wanted."

Anderson, one of the most popular and outgoing players in the Arizona clubhouse, signed the contract at a news conference at Bank One Ballpark.

With the departure of Andy Benes to St. Louis, the 27-year-old left-hander is projected to be part of the five-man rotation for the defending NL West champions.

"We're counting on Brian Anderson to do an awful lot in terms of productivity," Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo said. "The bottom line is that Brian has proven to us that he is a winner. He is a competitor."

A year ago, Anderson thought his days with the Diamondbacks were numbered after the team signed free-agent pitchers Randy Johnson, Todd Stottlemyre and Armando Reynoso.

With holdovers Benes and Omar Daal, Anderson was the odd man out of the rotation and a prime candidate for a trade.

But the Diamondbacks didn't like any of the offers they received, and Anderson stayed. He struggled out of the bullpen and eventually was sent to Triple-A Tucson for more work.

Anderson went without complaint, an attitude that didn't go unnoticed by the front office.

"Those are things you don't forget," general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. said. "Those are the things that make you feel good about coming to a day like this."

Anderson said he wasn't thrilled to be sent to the bullpen or the minors, but it's not his nature to complain.

"Obviously I didn't like what happened last year," he said, "but I think if you are going to call yourself a team player, then you put the team first."

Anderson returned, took the place of injured Todd Stottlemyre in the rotation and was strong down the stretch. He gave up six runs in his final 27 1-innings.

Overall, he was 8-2 with a 4.57 earned run average. In 19 starts, he was 7-1, 7-0 at Bank One Ballpark.

When Stottlemyre came back, Anderson was successful in spot starts, then made the post-season rotation ahead of Benes.

Anderson had a strong outing in the Diamondbacks 4-3, 10-inning loss to the New York Mets in the deciding Game 4 of their first-round series.

Anderson's contract means all five Arizona starters are signed at least through 2001. He is the second pitcher to avoid arbitration by signing with Arizona. Closer Matt Mantei signed a one-year, $2.8 million contract earlier this month.

The Diamondbacks have two more players who have filed for arbitration utility man Andy Fox and reliever Brad Clontz.

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