NEW YORK -- Al Leiter agreed Tuesday to an $18 million, two-year extension with the New York Mets rather than test an uncertain free-agent market in an offseason threatened with another work stoppage.
Leiter will get $8 million in each of the next two seasons, and the sides have a $10 million mutual option for 2005 with a $2 million buyout.
The 36-year-old left-hander, the ace of the Mets' staff, is 9-8 with a 3.28 ERA in 21 starts this season. He was acquired by New York from Florida after the 1997 season, traded as part of the Marlins' payroll purge following their World Series title.
"I made it clear that I wanted to stay here," Leiter said. "I 'm grateful to be able to get it done and not have it prolonged. I've been hearing enough about this team being dismantled. Hopefully, this will put a stop that."
His current $32 million, four-year deal, agreed to in October 1998, called for a $9 million signing bonus payable from October 1999 through this month, and salaries of $3 million in 1999, $5.5 million in 2000, $7.5 million in 2001 and $7 million this year.