Mets Hand Piazza $91M Deal


Mike Piazza is staying put, and it took the richest deal in baseball history to keep him with the New York Mets.

The All-Star catcher agreed to a $91 million, seven-year contract, which was announced Monday at Shea Stadium. Piazza's deal, which averages $13 million a season, tops the $75 million, six-year contract pitcher Pedro Martinez agreed to with Boston last December.

Piazza, 30, could have become a free agent but opted instead to stay with the Mets, who competed for the NL wild-card berth until the final weekend of the season.

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  • "The Mets showed incredible commitment to me," Piazza said. "If I'm so fortunate as to go into the Hall of Fame someday it definitely will be in a Mets uniform."

    He hit .329 this year with 32 home runs and 111 RBI, getting $8 million in the final season of a $15 million, two-year deal. After the Dodgers failed to sign him to a multiyear deal last spring, he was traded from Los Angeles to Florida in May. The Marlins traded him to the Mets a week later.

    "I definitely had some growing pains coming here," Piazza said. "Once I went through the ups and downs of New York I definitely wanted to finish my career here."

    Piazza gets a $7.5 million signing bonus, $4 million payable on Feb. 1 and the rest on Dec. 15, 2002. The Mets will pay him salaries of $6 million in 1999, $11 million in 2000, $12.5 million in 2001, $9.5 million in 2002, $14.5 million in 2003 and $15 million in both 2004 and 2005.

    In adition, the Mets agreed to give him a suite on all road trips and use of a luxury box for all games at Shea Stadium. If the Mets move to a new ballpark during the term of the contract, he would get a luxury box for 40 regular-season home games and all postseason home games.

    Piazza would get bonuses of $50,000 for making the All-Star team, $50,000 for a Gold Glove, $50,000 for a Silver Bat, $100,000 for the World Series MVP award, $50,000 for the league championship MVP and $25,000 for the division series MVP -- an award that currently doesn't exist.

    He also would get $125,000 if he's voted the NL MVP, $100,000 for finishing second, $75,000 for third, $50,000 for fourth and $25,000 for fifth.

    Piazza said it was just a matter of timing that he got baseball's richest deal.

    "I'm sure it will be surpassed, probably soon," he said.

    In addition, he gets a limited no-trade clause, although there is a dispute whether gets a total no-trade in May 2003 -- all 10-year veterans who have been with a team for five seasons have the right to veto trades under baseball's labor agreement.

    The deal is a clear signal the Mets will attempt to trade catcher Todd Hundley, who is to be paid $5.2 million next season and $6 million in 2000 as part of a $21 million, four-year contract.

    New York also is close to signing pitcher Al Leiter to a four-year contract worth $32 million. Leiter, traded from Florida to the Mets before the start of the 1998 season, went 17-6 with a 2.47 ERA and has said he wants to stay with the Mets.

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