Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Baseball [Print without images]

Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Updated: March 14, 4:51 PM ET
Simon agrees to $1,475,000 deal with Pittsburgh

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- First baseman Randall Simon avoided arbitration Tuesday by agreeing to a one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates worth $1,475,000.

 Randall Simon
Simon

Simon, acquired from the Detroit Tigers on Nov. 25, was the Pirates' last remaining arbitration-eligible player. He had filed for $1.85 million, while the Pirates had offered $1.3 million.

Simon made $285,000 last season, when he was voted the Tigers' MVP. Under his new deal, he could make an extra $100,000 in incentives: $25,000 each for 520, 550, 575 and 600 plate appearances.

Both sides wanted to work out a contract before Simon's arbitration case was scheduled to be heard Feb. 19.

The 27-year-old Simon led the Tigers with 19 homers, 82 RBI and a .459 slugging percentage last season, although he walked only 13 times in 130 games. Despite being a free swinger, he struck out only 30 times in 482 at-bats.

Simon has a .305 career average with 30 homers and 149 RBI in 321 games with the Braves and Tigers. He spent the last two seasons with Detroit before being dealt to the Pirates for three minor league players, including left-hander Adrian Burnside.

The left-handed hitting Simon is expected to get most of the playing time at first base, with holdover Kevin Young starting mostly against left-handers. The Pirates hope Simon will provide an extra left-handed power threat to complement Brian Giles, the team's only legitimate power threat last season.

Simon and outfielder Matt Stairs were the Pirates' two major offseason additions among position players. They also added starter Jeff Suppan, Kansas City's No. 2 starter last year, and reliever Matt Herges.

Simon visited Pittsburgh last weekend and will report to spring training next week. The Pirates open training camp for pitchers and catchers Friday in Bradenton, Fla.

"I'm happy to be here and I'm looking forward to getting to know my new teammates," Simon said.

Especially after some of his old Tigers teammates suggested they were glad that changes were made following their 106-loss season of a year ago.

Catcher Brandon Inge suggested the Tigers needed to make changes because some of the team's departed players ``didn't care.'' Outfielder Bobby Higginson and third baseman Dean Palmer also made similar statements.

"As a player, you don't want to hear that," Simon said last weekend during the Pirates' annual offseason fan festival. "I know those things happen, but it's tough to hear they would say something like that."