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Cubs Sign Santiago for $2 Million

December 9, 1998

CHICAGO (AP) _ Catcher Benito Santiago and the Chicago Cubs agreed Wednesday to a $2 million, one-year contract with a team option for 2000.

Santiago, 33, is a 12-year veteran who played in only 15 games last season for the Toronto Blue Jays following an auto accident last January in which he strained ligaments in his right knee. He rejoined the team in September, batting .310 with five doubles and four RBIs in 29 at-bats.

``He’s 100 percent. The Cubs did their homework to make sure of that,″ said Santiago’s agent, Lonnie Cooper. ``This is where he wanted to play. He’s very comfortable with the manager and the general manager.″

Santiago, Cubs manager Jim Riggleman and GM Ed Lynch all are former employees of the San Diego Padres.

Santiago will give the Cubs a right-handed hitting catcher they lost when the team did not offer salary arbitration to veteran Scott Servais, who had become a free agent. Tyler Houston is the Cubs’ other catcher and a left-handed hitter.

Santiago has also played with the Padres, who signed him initially in 1983, Florida, Cincinnati and Philadelphia. He has a .261 career average with 163 homers and 641 RBIs.

A four-time All-Star, he was voted NL Rookie of the Year in 1987, when he put together a 34-game hitting streak. Santiago hit 30 homers in 1996, a career high.

Santiago gets a $1.5 million salary and the chance to earn $500,000 in performance bonuses. Chicago’s option is for $3.5 million with a $500,000 buyout.

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