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Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Cubs lock up Miller, but may still pursue Pudge

Associated Press

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs locked up one catcher Wednesday, signing Damian Miller to a two-year, $5.7 million deal.

Damian Miller
Chicago Cubs
101 11 42 40 0 .249

The All-Star catcher was acquired last month in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Eligible for arbitration, he could have gotten a raise from the $2.7 million he made last year.

Instead, Miller gets $2.7 million next season and $3 million in 2004. He could earn another $150,000 per year in performance bonuses.

''We're happy to have him tied up. We think it's a fair deal for everyone,'' Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. ''He gets some security and we think it's a deal for us before we get to the arbitration date.

''I'm happy to be going to Nashville with him under contract.''

The winter meetings begin Friday in Nashville, Tenn.

Despite Miller's new deal, the Cubs could still make a run at Ivan Rodriguez. They've expressed interest in him, but are waiting to see what kind of money he'll want.

Rodriguez was the AL's highest-paid catcher last season, making $9.6 million. The Texas Rangers declined to offer him arbitration, which could have gotten him more than $12 million next year.

And if the Cubs don't get Rodriguez, they're comfortable with Miller. Chicago also acquired Paul Bako in a trade with Milwaukee last month.

Miller, 33, batted .249 with 22 doubles, 11 homers and 42 RBI in 101 games last season for the Diamondbacks, who won the NL West.

He had a .997 fielding percentage behind the plate, committing two errors in 767 total chances, and threw out 36 percent of baserunners who tried to steal.

He hit his first career inside-the-park homer in August against the Cubs and had a pair of doubles and an RBI in the All-Star game at Milwaukee.