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Long-awaited deal nearly complete

CLEVELAND -- Free agent right-hander Kevin Millwood and the
Cleveland Indians are a phone call or two away from agreement on a
$7 million, one-year contract.

Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said Thursday that he and
Millwood's agent, Scott Boras, have made significant progress in
negotiations over the past 48 hours as they work toward finalizing
a deal.

"I feel optimistic about it,'' Shapiro said.

Boras also said he was confident a deal would be completed soon.

Talks between the sides have dragged on for weeks, slowed by
medical tests the Indians required of Millwood, personal matters
and Boras being tied up with other high-profile free agent clients.

As long as there are no further delays, the Indians are likely
to announce the signing in the next two days. The deal would
contain $1 million in performance bonuses, with Millwood earning
the full amount if he makes 34 starts or pitches 210 innings.

Cleveland also has had preliminary talks with outfielder
Juan Gonzalez on a minor league contract with an invitation to spring
training. Gonzalez, who had one of the best seasons of his career
for the Indians in 2000, was limited to just 33 games last season
with the Kansas City Royals because of lower back problems.

Gonzalez made $4.5 million in 2004, but would have to settle for
an incentive-based contract with the Indians if he makes their
roster. In his only season with Cleveland, Gonzalez batted .325
with 35 homers and 140 RBI.

Adding a quality pitcher to their rotation has been an
offseason priority for the Indians, who have offered multiyear
deals to Jon Lieber and Matt Clement and a one-year package to
David Wells only to be outbid by other teams.

Before they turned their focus on Millwood, the Indians put the
30-year-old through some lengthy medical exams. Millwood strained
an elbow ligament last season for Philadelphia, an injury that
limited him to 25 starts and 141 innings -- the second fewest of his
major league career.

Millwood had two 18-win seasons and went 75-41 in six seasons
with the Atlanta Braves, who traded him to the Phillies in 2002.
Millwood, who has pitched more than 200 innings four times, went
14-12 with a 4.01 ERA in '03 and 9-6 with a 4.85 ERA last season.