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Twins, Radke Close To Deal

Brad Radke's agent says the pitcher and the Minnesota Twins are close to a contract agreement that would make the right-hander the highest-paid player in franchise history.

The four-year contract extension would be worth $36 million. Ron Simon, Radke's agent, told the Star Tribune on Saturday that minor details still needed to be resolved.

"Yes, we are making progress," Simon said. "There's a chance that we could agree to a deal Monday, but there's a chance that we couldn't, too."

The deal would put Radke under contract through 2004 and its annual average of $9 million would be more than Kirby Puckett's highest salary of $7 million from 1996, possibly signaling the end of the cost-slashing that reduced the club's payroll to a major league-low $16.5 million this year.

Radke is eligible for free agency at the end of this season. He is already the highest-paid Twin with a $3.5 million salary now.

Radke is 5-9 this season with a 4.07 ERA.

Radke, who returned Friday from a one-day trip home to Florida to be with his hospitalized son, seemed optimistic.

"I feel pretty good about it," he said.

The key to the agreement is team CEO Chris Clouser's ability to work around the opt-out clause demanded by Simon. The clause would have given Radke a deadline soon after next season to demand a trade.

That clause had been called a stumbling block by both sides and led to the breakdown in negotiations in February.

Radke wouldn't give details, but said Friday he and Simon have backed off the original language of the clause.

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