Mac, Cards Agree On Option

Mark McGwire and the St. Louis Cardinals agreed Thursday to exercise their $11 million mutual option for 2001.

McGwire, 36, gets $9 million next season as part of a $28.5 million, three-year contract he agreed to with the Cardinals in September 1997.

Both sides had to agree to the option. If the Cardinals declined to exercise it, McGwire would have received a $2 million buyout and become eligible for free agency after the 2000 season.

If the team exercised it and McGwire declined, he would not have gotten a buyout and would have been eligible for free agency after next season.

"I've said all along that there are no better fans than Cardinals fans, and that there is no better place to play baseball than in St. Louis," McGwire said in a statement. "I've experienced a lifetime of memories during my time as a member of the Cardinals, and I look forward to continuing this fantastic relationship."

After hitting a record 70 home runs in 1997 and a major league-leading 65 this year, McGwire enters next season with 522 career home runs, 10th on the career list. With 52 next season, he would pass Harmon Killebrew and break into the top five.

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