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Pirates Give Young $24M Deal

March 6, 1999

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) _ First baseman Kevin Young became the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first $20 million player today, agreeing to a $24 million, four-year contract extension.

The deal was concluded late Friday night following hours of negotiations between Pirates general manager Cam Bonifay and Young’s agent, Sam Levinson.

The two sides have been talking for more than two weeks, but until Friday the Pirates had not budged from their offer of $16.5 million over three years. Young had requested $30 million over five years.

The Pirates announced the signing this morning. The deal calls for a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $5.5 million in 2000, $6 million in 2001, $5.5 million in 2002 and $6.5 million in 2003.

``I really wanted to get this done because I’ve wanted to stay with the Pirates. I’ve made that clear all along,″ Young said. ``I wanted to get this done now so it’s out of the way and I don’t have to worry about it any longer.″

The deal was reached after the Pirates gave Young four years on the contract. Young previously said he would not take a three-year contract or even three years plus an option.

Young, who didn’t resume working out until Thursday, didn’t play Friday and may not be ready for game action for several more days.

The previous richest contract in Pirates history was the $17.5 million, four-year deal reached by shortstop Jay Bell in 1993, a signing that followed an off-season migration of star players such as Barry Bonds and Doug Drabek.

The Pirates were criticized at the time for overpaying Bell, an above-average fielder who occasionally hit for power but was not a run producer in the mold of Cal Ripken. The Pirates subsequently traded Bell to Kansas City in 1997, the last year of the contract, and he signed an even-richer $35 million deal with Arizona before the 1998 season.

In 1993, the Pirates were trying to save face by signing at least one of their veteran players after dismantling a three-time division championship team.

This time, the Pirates are trying to lock up their most efficient run producer as they hope to field a contending team by the time they move into the new ballpark in 2001.

Young, 29, hit .300 with 18 homers and 74 RBIs in 1997 despite missing six weeks with a broken thumb, then hit .270 with a career-high 27 homers and 108 RBIs last season. He also is one of the NL’s best-fielding first basemen.

The Pirates initially were counting on Young to help them rebuild in 1993, but he hit only .236 that season and .205 in 1994 and subsequently was released in March 1996.

He played for Kansas City in 1997, hitting .242 with eight homers and 23 RBIs, then finally developed into the power hitter the Pirates envisioned after the Royals released him and he returned to Pittsburgh as a minor league free agent.

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