Suppan agrees to four-year deal with Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- NL Championship Series MVP Jeff Suppan reached
a preliminary agreement Sunday on a $42 million, four-year contract
with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Suppan must pass a physical for the deal to be finalized, the
Brewers said in a rare Christmas Eve announcement. His contract
includes a team option for 2011 with a $2 million buyout.

"He gives us a big-game pitcher. He's shown that last year,"
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said during a telephone
conference call.

A 31-year-old right-hander, Suppan went 12-7 with a 4.12 ERA for
St. Louis this year -- including a 6-2 mark with a 2.39 ERA in 15
starts after the All-Star break. He was 1-1 in four postseason
starts, including a win in Game 3 and seven solid innings in Game 7
of the NLCS against the New York Mets. He is 44-26 with a 3.95 ERA
over the last three regular seasons, tied for ninth in the major
leagues in wins.

Suppan met Tuesday with Brewers officials, and the team made an
offer the following day, when Suppan met with New York Mets
executives. His agent, Scott Leventhal, negotiated through the
weekend with Melvin.

Leventhal said there was no temptation to wait until after Barry
Zito decided where to sign -- when the teams that failed to get the
left-hander might bid up Suppan's price.

"All along we controlled the tempo of our own negotiations. We
understood a marketplace would open up once Zito dropped,"
Leventhal said. "Sup's whole thing was to go at his own pace and
make his decision on when he felt was the best time. He felt today
was the best time."

Melvin said Suppan's durability was an attraction for the
Brewers, who struggled last season when Ben Sheets and Tomo Ohka got
hurt. Suppan has made 31 or more starts in eight straight seasons,
throwing 180 or more innings each time.

"This obviously will be the largest improvement, adding a
pitcher of this stature," Melvin said.

Milwaukee needed a durable starting pitcher after trading Doug Davis to Arizona for Claudio Vargas, catcher Johnny Estrada and
pitcher Greg Aquino.

Suppan has pitched for Boston (1995-97, 2003), Arizona (1998),
Kansas City (1998-2002), Pittsburgh (2003) and St. Louis (2004-06).
He has reached double figures in wins seven times, and has a career
record of 106-101 with a 4.60 ERA.

Milwaukee, coming off a 75-87 record and fourth-place finish in
the NL Central, has a projected rotation that includes left-hander
Chris Capuano and right-handers Sheets, Dave Bush, Vargas and

In the NLCS, Suppan pitched eight shutout innings for the
victory in Game 3, then allowed one run over seven innings in Game
7, which the Cardinals went on to win 3-1 on Yadier Molina's
two-run homer in the ninth. St. Louis then went on to beat Detroit
in five games for the World Series title.

Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said that kind of performance was
important to him as he tries to make the Brewers a "perennially
competitive" team.

"What you want to do is add a winner," Attanasio said.

Leventhal said the pitcher saw the
Brewers as a team with potential.

"I think he feels like it's a team that has tremendous talent --
it's got a mix of young guys and veterans, all with talent," he

Leventhal said Suppan was at a Christmas Eve Mass and could not
be reached for comment.

Suppan generated some controversy during the World Series when
he appeared in a television commercial and a print ad opposing a
Missouri amendment to permit embryonic stem cell research. The
amendment passed by a narrow margin.

Attanasio invited the pitcher and his agent to dinner at his
home last week.

"It was a very relaxed evening," Attanasio said. "There was a
lot of give and take. I got to know Jeff. I came away impressed."