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Blue Jays' ace agrees to 4-year pact

TORONTO -- Roy Halladay could have waited two more seasons
and gone elsewhere. Instead, the AL Cy Young Award winner decided
to remain with the Toronto Blue Jays.

"I want to win here and be part of a team that builds something
rather than going out and just trying to sign with a team that has
the best chance to win," Halladay said Thursday after agreeing to a $42
million, four-year contract.

"It's hard to say what things are like in other organizations,
but I can't see myself being any happier any place else."

Halladay, 22-7 with a 3.25 ERA last season, gets $6 million this
year, $10.5 million in 2005, $12.7 million in 2006 and $12.8
million in 2007.

He would have been eligible for free agency after the 2005
season.

"If you have one of the top-10 pitchers in baseball, that's a
commodity that you don't want to let get away," Blue Jays general
manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "We think our best baseball is ahead
of us and we wanted Roy to be part of that."

Halladay made $3,875,000 last season, when he set a team record
for wins. He had asked for $9 million in salary arbitration, and
the Blue Jays had offered $6.5 million. If they had not reached an
agreement, the case would have been decided by arbitrators next
month.

A durable pitcher whose 266 innings in 2003 led the AL for the
second straight year, Halladay tied Toronto's record by winning 15
consecutive decisions last season.

In his major league career, he is 59-31 with a 3.84 ERA in 119
starts and 25 relief appearances.

"I think we all view Roy as a cornerstone of our franchise, one
of the key pieces that will help us compete at a high level," said
Ted Rogers, president of Rogers Communications, the Blue Jays'
owner.