Originally created 03/27/04

Urbina, Tigers reach one-year deal for $3.5 million

Free-agent closer Ugueth Urbina and the Detroit Tigers reached agreement on a $3.5 million, one-year deal Friday that reunited him with former Florida catcher Ivan Rodriguez.

Cut loose by the Marlins after they won the World Series, Urbina took his time choosing a new team. Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Minnesota and San Francisco were among several clubs that talked to him, and he also attracted interest in Japan.

Urbina will get $3 million this season. There is a club option for $4 million in 2005 with a $500,000 buyout. He made about $4.5 million last year.

Urbina worked out with the Tigers this week while manager Alan Trammell watched. Detroit set an AL record with 119 losses last season, and no reliever on the staff had more than five saves.

On Thursday, the Tigers sent Matt Anderson back to Triple-A Toledo. The top pick in the 1997 draft and once projected as Detroit's closer of the future, the hard-throwing righty has been limited to a total of 35 games the last two years because of shoulder trouble.

The Tigers were busy in the offseason, trying to upgrade a team that came within one loss of matching the modern mark for defeats set by the 1962 New York Mets.

Along with giving Rodriguez a $40 million, four-year deal, the Tigers acquired outfielder Rondell White, second baseman Fernando Vina, shortstop Carlos Guillen, pitcher Jason Johnson and reliever Al Levine during the winter.

Urbina started last season with Texas and had 26 saves before being traded to the Marlins. He split the closer's role with Braden Looper down the stretch, then earned two saves against the New York Yankees in the World Series.

Urbina's friendship with Rodriguez was a deciding factor in settling on Detroit.

"Pudge has called me several times. He called three days ago. He said, 'I really want you to play with me,"' Urbina said this week.


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