Matsui Contract Gives Mets Additional Options

Prior to wrapping up Kazuo Matsui last week, the Mets made several compromises with the prized Japanese shortstop. General manager Jim Duquette was able to maneuver and get some extra payroll for 2004. The twenty-eight-year-old will earn $20.1 million over the three years of his contract and gain an additional $900,000 in incentives, but the star will make just $5 million next season. That has helped give the team the ability to grab a center fielder and possibly fill a few more holes.

According to Duquette, the back-loaded deal allowed the organization to sign another free agent to a deal very similar to the one that was issued to Matsui. That was free agent Gold Glove outfielder Mike Cameron, who got three years and $19.5 million after agreeing to it on Saturday at the winter meetings in New Orleans.

The pact also includes a $7 million team option for 2007.

There was early speculation following the conclusion of the season that the Mets were going to push hard for his services. Duquette then honestly admitted that the Mets were interested in Cameron, who wasn't offered salary arbitration by the Seattle Mariners.

The 30-year-old, who hit .253 with 18 home runs, 31 doubles, 76 RBIs and 17 stolen bases last season, possesses the key tools that the franchise is trying to mold their team around: power, speed and fabulous defensive skills.

"He fits what we're looking to do," Duquette said.

Duquette, who had his interim tag removed in late October, also confirmed his interest in free agent right-hander Miguel Batista, who was not offered arbitration by the Arizona Diamondbacks, but Batista would sign with Toronto instead after the Mets weren't willing to guarantee him a third year.

Currently, the trading of Roger Cedeno is on the top of this GM's agenda.

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