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Closing the deal

Benitez agrees to 4-year, $22 million contract with Mets

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Posted: Thursday February 17, 2000 11:03 AM

  Armando Benitez Armando Benitez fanned 128 batters in just 78 innings last season. Ezra O. Shaw/Allsport

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- Reliever Armando Benitez and the New York Mets agreed Thursday to a $22 million, four-year contract, avoiding arbitration.

Benitez, who made $2,037,500 last season, had asked for $4.9 million and had been offered $3.25 million. He had 22 saves last year, going 4-3 with a 1.43 ERA in 77 games.

On Wednesday, Benitez was a no-show as the Mets began workouts.

"It wasn't a ploy or anything, just a miscommunication," Mets general manager Steve Phillips said.

Apparently, Benitez's agent told Mets media relations director Jay Horwitz that his client wouldn't report until after his scheduled arbitration hearing in Tampa.

Bobby Valentine wasn't upset with Benitez's absence.

"It's just one of those things you live with," the manager said. "Personally, I'd just rather have him here with the group."

All other pitchers and catchers were in camp Wednesday, including reliever Turk Wendell, who reported a day late because of the birth of his son.

Valentine was pleasantly surprised by the condition of at least two of his starting pitchers, including right-hander Bobby J. Jones, on the disabled list from last May through September because of a strained rotator cuff.

"He looks like he did a couple of years ago in spring training, and he threw pain-free and pretty efficiently," Valentine said.

Left-hander Al Leiter, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, also came under Valentine's scrutiny.

"I think it's very important that he's healthy enough to make his 30-plus starts and make them all credible," Valentine said. "He looks in better shape."

Leiter didn't take part in postpractice running. Also skipping it were pitcher Paul Wagner, who has a stiff back, and catcher Todd Pratt.

Related information
Benitez a no-show before arbitration hearing
Rivera closing in on arbitration hearing
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