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Breaking the bank

Brown agrees to $105 million, 7-year deal with Dodgers

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Posted: Sunday December 13, 1998 02:02 AM

  Artful Dodger: Kevin Brown is 1-1 with 2.70 ERA in his career at Dodger Stadium AP

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- Kevin Brown became the first baseball player to break the $100 million barrier, agreeing Saturday to a $105 million, seven-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The deal set a record both for total dollars and average annual value ($15 million). The previous high for average salary, $13.33 million, was set less than two weeks ago, when first baseman Mo Vaughn agreed November 25 to an $80 million, six-year contract with the Anaheim Angels.

The previous high for dollars was set October 23, when catcher Mike Piazza agreed to a $91 million, seven-year deal with the New York Mets.

"We think Kevin Brown is a big part of our future," Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone said. "We're comfortable with the terms. We feel like we logically evaluated the marketplace. We needed the player, we wanted the player and we made the commitment to our fans to becoming a winning team."

Breaking the $100 million mark is sure to bring an outcry among some owners against Rupert Murdoch, who took over the Dodgers in March. With Murdoch's billions, Los Angeles has made major upgrades in an effort to return to the World Series for the first time since 1988.

"I never thought we'd see the day of a $91 million player," said Dodgers senior vice president Tom Lasorda, who is Piazza's godfather. "There's only one thing certain in baseball -- nothing is certain."

Brown gets a $5 million signing bonus, $10 million next year and $15 million in each of the following six seasons. As part of the deal, the Dodgers will give him the use of a private plane 12 times per season to commute to Los Angeles from Brown's home in Macon, Georgia. He also gets a no-trade clause.

Anaheim, Baltimore, Colorado and St. Louis also were among the finalists for Brown, a 33-year-old right-hander who went 18-7 with a 2.38 ERA for San Diego this year. He helped Florida win the World Series in 1997, then was traded to the Padres as part of the Marlins' payroll purge and helped San Diego reach for the World Series for the first time since 1984.

"As I told him, he makes the rest of the pitchers better pitchers," Lasorda said. "I told him, 'You don't need to say one word to be a leader. What you do and the way you pitch makes you a leader.'"

Brown's agent Scott Boras, had said since last summer he would get his client a deal at least six years long and approach or set record numbers. Brown's value increased when he led the Padres into the World Series against the Yankees.

"Everyone knows the value of a No. 1 pitcher," Boras said Friday night. "The premium is Kevin Brown has taken a good club and put it in the World Series."

Since the end of the season, Los Angeles agreed to a $12.4 million, three-year contract with center fielder Devon White and a $6.5 million, three-year contract with reliever Alan Mills.

The Dodgers also acquired catcher Todd Hundley and reliever Mel Rojas from the New York Mets, lost free agent pitchers have Scott Radinsky and Brian Bohanon and dealt outfielder Bobby Bonilla to New York.

 
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