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Mets Sign Pitcher Yoshii for $5M

November 12, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ The New York Mets re-signed another of their starting pitchers, agreeing Thursday to a $5 million, two-year contract with Masato Yoshii.

The 33-year-old right-hander joined the Mets last January following a successful career in Japan. He went 6-8 with a 3.93 ERA in 29 starts.

``Masato deserves a lot of credit,″ Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. ``He easily could have stayed in Japan last season and made more money, but he was determined to prove himself in the United States. He did just that and more.″

Yoshii had a $200,000 base salary with the Mets this year but earned $875,000 more in performance bonuses to raise his earnings to $1,075,000. His new deal calls for salaries of $2 million next year and $3 million in 2000.

``I really enjoyed myself with the Mets last year,″ Yoshii said in a statement. ``Bobby understands me and the type of pitcher I am. I think I proved I can pitch in the major leagues last season, and it is my goal this year to improve and help the Mets get to the playoffs.″

Valentine first saw Yoshii in Japan, when Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines. Yoshii played for the Kintetsu Buffaloes of the Pacific League from 1985-94, then moved to the Yakult Swallows of the Central League.

In the middle of last season, the Mets obtained Hideo Nomo, another Japanese pitcher, after he pitched inconsistently for the Dodgers.

Yoshii’s contract allowed him to become a free agent unless he and the Mets agreed to a new deal by this Sunday.

Al Leiter, who also was eligible for free agency, remained with the Mets for a $32 million, four-year contract.

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