Indians sign Lee to three-year, $14M extension
CLEVELAND -- Cliff Lee signed a three-year, $14 million contract extension with the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday, another long-term commitment for a young player the club considers key to winning in the future.
Lee's deal includes a club option for the 2010 season for $8 million, plus $1 million in award and incentive bonuses, ESPN Insider Jerry Crasnick reports.
The 27-year-old left-hander has been solid if not spectacular this season for the Indians, who have been one of baseball's biggest disappointments. Cleveland won 93 games and barely missed the playoffs in 2005, but the club is just 47-63 entering Tuesday and 28 games behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central.
While Indians general manager Mark Shapiro needs to rebuild the Indians in several areas, in Lee and lefties C.C. Sabathia and Jeremy Sowers, Cleveland has a strong nucleus of starters for years to come.
The Indians have been active in locking up players they believe make up a championship core, and in the past 16 months owner Larry Dolan has spent more than $100 million in signing Lee, Sabathia ($29.7 million), designated hitter Travis Hafner ($7 million), catcher Victor Martinez ($15.5 million), outfielder Grady Sizemore ($23.45 million) and shortstop Jhonny Peralta ($13 million).
"This signing further exemplifies ownership's consistent, continued desire to maintain the present core group of Cleveland Indians players and demonstrates Cliff's desire to be part of that core," Shapiro said.
Lee came to the Indians along with Sizemore in the 2002 trade with Montreal that sent Bartolo Colon to the Expos. In 99 career starts, he's 44-25 with a 4.47 ERA. This year, Lee is 9-8 with a 4.75 ERA in a team-high 33 starts.
Last season, he went 18-5 and had the AL's highest winning percentage, the first Indians pitcher to do that since Bob Feller in 1951. He finished fourth in Cy Young voting.
The Indians began talks with Lee's agent during spring training about a new contract, but the sides couldn't finalize a deal before Opening Day.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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