Benson nears 3-year deal; 1-year deal for Leiter

NEW YORK -- Kris Benson and Al Leiter are likely to be back
with the New York Mets next season.

Benson and the Mets closed in Friday on a three-year deal worth
about $22.5 million, a baseball official with knowledge of the
negotiations said on the condition of anonymity.

Leiter and New York were nearing agreement on a one-year
contract worth $4 million to $5 million plus performance bonuses,
the official said.

Benson was acquired by New York from Pittsburgh on July 30 along
with infielder Jeff Keppinger for infielder Ty Wigginton,
right-fielder Matt Peterson and infielder Jose Bautista. Benson, a
30-year-old right-hander, went 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 11 starts
with the Mets and 12-12 with a 4.31 ERA overall.

Talks with his agent, Gregg Clifton, began soon after the trade.

"We've made tremendous progress over the last 48 hours, and
we're getting within range where it's pretty much conceivable that
we'll get a deal done," Clifton said.

Leiter, a 39-year-old left-hander, has pitched with the Mets for
the past seven seasons and possibly could have interested the
Yankees. After he went 10-8 with a 3.21 ERA in 30 starts last
season, the Mets declined his $10.2 million option and opted to pay
a $2.1 million buyout.

"We've had continuing conversations with the Mets," his agent,
Alan Hendricks, said Friday.