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Rocket reprise

Clemens signs on for 20th season with $10.1 million deal

Posted: Monday December 30, 2002 12:32 PM
Updated: Tuesday December 31, 2002 12:02 AM
  Roger Clemens is 60-27 with a 4.00 ERA since joining the Yankees in 1999. AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Roger Clemens wants to say goodbye to baseball with the New York Yankees.

The six-time Cy Young Award winner agreed Monday to a one-year, $10.1 million contract and probably will retire after next season, his 20th in the major leagues.

"My feeling is right now that I don't anticipate playing past this year," Clemens said. "I plan on going out the right way -- like I always have, full throttle."

An eight-time All-Star who turns 41 in August, Clemens has gone 60-27 during four seasons with the Yankees, winning World Series titles in his first two years. He doesn't want to make a formal announcement about retirement and get feted with honors in each city, the way Cal Ripken did.

"I don't want to say something now and have the distractions that go along with it," Clemens said. "I don't want to be the show."

Clemens, who joined the Yankees after 13 seasons in Boston and two in Toronto, has 3,909 strikeouts, third on the career list behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Steve Carlton (4,136). With a 293-151 record, Clemens has a chance to overtake Tom Seaver (311) and Gaylord Perry (314) next season, which would put him in 15th place on the career wins list.

Club 300
Pitchers with 300 career wins
Pitcher W-L
Cy Young 511-313
Walter Johnson 417-279
Christy Mathewson 373-188
Grover Alexander 373-208
Warren Spahn 363-245
Kid Nichols 361-208
Pud Galvin 361-309
Tim Keefe 342-225
Steve Carlton 329-244
John Clarkson 327-176
Don Sutton 324-256
Nolan Ryan 324-292
Phil Niekro 318-274
Gaylord Perry 314-265
Tom Seaver 311-205
Hoss Radbourn 308-191
Mickey Welch 307-209
Eddie Plank 305-181
Lefty Grove 300-141
Early Wynn 300-244
Close but no cigar
Roger Clemens 293-151
Tommy John 288-231
Bert Blyleven 287-250
Robin Roberts 286-245
Tony Mullane 285-213
 

After going 20-3 in 2001, Clemens was 13-6 with a 4.35 ERA in 29 starts last season, battling leg problems.

"To win 300 in the Stadium or in the uniform would mean everything," Clemens said. "It would go hand in hand with the championships."

For now, New York has eight starting pitchers, a group that also includes Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, David Wells, Cuban defector Jose Contreras, Orlando Hernandez, Jeff Weaver and Sterling Hitchcock.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the surplus of starters allows him flexibility to make moves before Opening Day. Hernandez and Hitchcock are the most likely to be traded.

"Either we'll have superb depth or we'll be able to trade from a strength," Cashman said.

"When the dust settles and the season gets underway, usually injuries hit. It's like thoroughbreds -- one thing leads to another. Or we'll be able to utilize that depth in a trade."

New York also wants Clemens to set an example for younger pitchers, such as Weaver. Cashman remembered the day in July 2001 that Clemens volunteered to pitch in Detroit on three days' rest when a teammate got sick.

"I'm going to be 41 this year, and I plan on leading this staff in a number of ways, on the field and off the field," Clemens said. "I'm going to continue to push those guys."

Under the new deal, Clemens will not start receiving his salary until 2004 and will not get the entire amount until 2014, making the present-day value of the contract about $8.1 million, according to calculations by the commissioner's office.

"Once we knew something was going to happen in New York, there was no other choice for me," Clemens said.

Clemens was coming off a two-year, $30.9 million, agreement with the Yankees. The pitcher would not accept less than $10 million for next year, and the Yankees would not agree to a deal that counted for more than about $8.15 million against the luxury tax.

Clemens' agents, Randy and Alan Hendricks, have said their client was offered $12 million to sign with another team but said Clemens' preference was to stay in New York.

Clemens will get $10.3 million in 2003, all deferred from his previous deal. Under the new contract New York pays him $600,000 in 2004, $700,000 in 2005, $900,000 in 2006, $950,000 in each of the following six years, and $1.1 million in both 2013 and 2014.

In the last two weeks, New York agreed to a $21 million deal with outfielder Hideki Matsui and a $32 million contract with Contreras. The team estimates its payroll for luxury tax purposes at about $155 million; the tax begins at $117 million.

Yankees president Randy Levine, who structured Clemens' contract with Randy Hendricks, defended the team against criticism that it spends too much. Boston Red Sox president Larry Lucchino has taken to calling the Yankees "the Evil Empire."

New York estimates its revenue sharing payments will increase from $32 million in 2002 to $46 million next year and is planning on a luxury tax bill of about $9 million. Levine said other teams should stop "whining."

"The days of trying to shed or hide your own problems by blaming the Yankees are over," Levine said. "If those teams chose not to spend on players but use it for whatever means they decide to, that's their problem."

 
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