Vizquel the long-term solution at shortstop

Updated: November 14, 2004, 4:59 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Free agent shortstop Omar Vizquel has agreed to terms with the San Francisco Giants, the team announced Sunday.

Vizquel agreed to a $12.25 million, three-year contract, a person close to the negotiations told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Vizquel, a nine-time Gold Glove winner, becomes the first of 207 free agents to join a new team, and the second to sign overall after Texas reliever Doug Brocail returned to the Rangers on Friday on a $1 million, one-year deal.

The 37-year-old Vizquel, one of baseball's best defensive shortstops and a switch-hitter, batted .291 (165-for-567) with seven homers and 59 RBI last season for the Cleveland Indians. He also scored 82 runs, stole 19 bases and did not commit an error over the last 55 games.

Vizquel filed for free agency last month after the Indians declined to pick up his $5 million option for 2005. Vizquel had said he wanted to return for a 12th season in Cleveland, where he grew into one of the franchise's most popular players, but the Indians said his return would be "a long shot." General manager Mark Shapiro's priority this offseason is pitching.

Shapiro did meet with Vizquel and his agent, Adam Katz, last month to discuss the possibility of a return, but nothing came of it. Cleveland had to pay Vizquel a $1 million buyout.

Last season, the high-energy Vizquel became just the 19th active player to reach 2,000 hits, and now has 2,147 in 16 major league seasons. He won the American League Gold Glove every year from 1993 to 2001. The Indians acquired him in a trade with Seattle in December 1993.

San Francisco signed Deivi Cruz, the Giants' primary shortstop last season, to an $800,000, one-year contract earlier this month, but general manager Brian Sabean made it clear he was looking for a long-term solution in the position -- and told Cruz that, too.

San Francisco missed the playoffs, but was in the thick of the NL West race until the final weekend.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat and the Contra Costa Times first reported the story in Sunday's editions.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press