<
>

Benson agrees to 3-year, $22.5M deal

NEW YORK -- Kris Benson and the New York Mets completed more
than three months of negotiations, agreeing Saturday to a $22.5
million, three-year contract.

Benson's deal includes a $2.5 million signing bonus and a $7.5
million club option for 2008 with a $500,000 buyout. If the option
is exercised, the contract would be worth $29.5 million over four
seasons.

The deal is subject to Benson completing a physical, which is
scheduled for New York on Monday.

New York wouldn't confirm the agreement, only that it asked
Benson to have a physical. Contract details were provided by a
person with knowledge of the negotiations who spoke on the
condition of anonymity.

"We look forward to providing future information following the
completion of the physical," the Mets said in a statement.

Benson, a 30-year-old right-hander, was scheduled to be in New
York on Tuesday for a "Benson's Battalion" charity event.

He was acquired by New York from Pittsburgh on July 30 along
with infielder Jeff Keppinger for infielder Ty Wigginton,
right-hander Matt Peterson and infielder Jose Bautista. Benson
went 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 11 starts with the Mets, leaving his
record at 12-12 with a 4.31 ERA.

New York next turns its attention to finalizing a contract with
Al Leiter. A baseball official, also speaking on the condition of
anonymity, said Friday that New York and the 39-year-old
left-hander were nearing agreement on a one-year contract worth $4
million to $5 million plus performance bonuses.