PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) — The Philadelphia Phillies have made Bobby Abreu the highest-paid player in team history, signing the All-Star right fielder to a five-year extension worth $64 million
Phillies general manager Ed Wade announced the deal on Wednesday morning.
Abreu receives a $3 million signing bonus and the Phillies will have an option for a sixth season at $16 million in 2008 or a $2 million buyout.
In addition, the contract includes numerous award bonuses and salary escalator provisions should Abreu finish in the top three of the National League Most Valuable Player Award which could raise the total to $78 million.
The average annual salary of Abreu’s five-year contract is worth $12.8 million, which ranks 18th in baseball, just below the $13 million annual average of catcher Mike Piazza and pitcher Chan Ho Park.
“Our stated objective has been to keep the core of the club together for a long time,” Wade said. “Signing Bobby is a clear indication that what we say is what we mean.”
“We signed Mike Lieberthal to a deal prior to the 2000 season that bought out his free agency, and that was the first move we made towards keeping this group together. And, moving forward, we plan to make the same types of commitments to the players who we want to be a big part of our team now.”
The signing of Abreu was a clear message to third baseman Scott Rolen, who has turned down a lucrative long-term deal and is eligible to become a free agent after the 2002 season. Rolen has often cited the team’s unwillingness to spend money in order to compete as the primary factor in his decision to not make a commitment to the Phillies.
Abreu, who turns 28 in March, was to enter the final year of a three-year, $14.25 million contract that was slated to pay him $6 million this season. But he was not eligible for free agency until after the 2003 season.
Abreu is recovering from an emergency appendectomy earlier this month but is expected to report to camp later this month.
Abreu is coming off a season in which he hit .289 and set career highs with 31 homers, 110 RBI, 118 runs scored and 36 stolen bases. He was the first Phillie ever to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in the same season and finished fourth in doubles with 48 and tied for third in walks with 106.
A lifetime .307 hitter, Abreu has a career on-base percentage of .408 — trailing only Barry Bonds, Jeff Bagwell and Brian Giles among National League players with at least 2,800 plate appearances.
The acquisition of Abreu in November 1997 for shortstop Kevin Stocker stands as one of the greatest trades in franchise history.