The Philadelphia Phillies Monday exercised the $3 million option on right-hander Mark Leiter for the 1999 season, but decided to cut pitcher Mark Portugal loose.
The Phils had a club option on the injury-plagued Portugal worth $2.3 million for 1999, but elected to buy it out for $300,000 Portugal, who turns 36 Friday, collected just under $5 million over the last two seasons.
The 35-year-old Leiter, who earned just over $4.25 million in the past two seasons, benefited from an injury to Ricky Bottalico and moved into the role of closer. He recorded 23 saves, but squandered 12 opportunities.
Leiter revived his career in relief, starting the season as Bottalico's set-up man. In 69 appearances, he posted a 7-5 mark and a 3.55 ERA and allowing 67 hits with 47 walks and 84 strikeouts over 88 2/3 innings.
Leiter, who had started 128 of 131 games the previous four seasons with the Phillies, San Francisco Giants and Montreal Expos, is 63-72 with a 4.64 ERA in 313 major-league appearances, including 146 starts. He has also played for the California Angels, Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees.
Portugal, who like Leiter signed with Philadelphia as a free agent Dec. 11, 1997, actually earned an extra $300,000 this season in addition to his $2.2 million base salary for starting more than 20 games and pitching more than 150 innings. He was 10-5 with a 4.44 ERA, accumulating 166 1/3 innings in 26 starts.
The right-hander is 102-83 with a 3.91 ERA in 315 major-league appearances for the Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, Giants, Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins and has made trips to the disabled list nine times since the 1991 season. The 11-year veteran enjoyed his best year for Houston in 1994, going 18-4 with a 2.77 ERA.
Philadelphia general manager Ed Wade also extended the contract of director of scouting Mike Arbuckle through the 2001 season and named the Chicago White Sox director of minor-league administration Steve Noworyta director of minor-league operations.
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