Finley moves to Cleveland

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The Independent Online

Chuck Finley became the first of the front-line free-agent pitchers in Major League baseball to sign with a team, agreeing on Thursday with the Cleveland Indians on a $27 million, three-year contract that includes $7 million in money deferred without interest.

Chuck Finley became the first of the front-line free-agent pitchers in Major League baseball to sign with a team, agreeing on Thursday with the Cleveland Indians on a $27 million, three-year contract that includes $7 million in money deferred without interest.

Finley, Cleveland's first left-handed starter since 1991, went 12-11 with a 4.43 Earned Run Average and one complete game in 33 starts last season for the Angels. He also topped 200 innings for the eighth time.

"I dream every night about pitching in the playoffs and getting a chance to go to the World Series," Finley said. "I couldn't have found a better situation than here in Cleveland. It's a perfect fit for me."

Also on Thursday, infielder Jose Hernandez agreed to a $10 million, three-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, and backup catcher Mike Matheny agreed to an $800,000, one-year contract with the St Louis Cardinals.

Among players eligible for salary arbitration, left-hander Jose Rosado agreed to a $5.5 million, two-year contract with the Kansas City Royals.

Finley, 37, gets an $11 million signing bonus, of which $2 million is payable now, $2 million on January 15, 2002 and the rest in equal installments of $2,333,333 on January 15 in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

He gets annual salaries of $5 million, $6 million and $5 million and - in a sign of hope - a $500,000 bonus if he's Most Valuable Player of the World Series.

"I think the match with the Indians and Chuck Finley is at the absolute right time," Indians general manager John Hart said. "This ballclub offers what Chuck Finley is looking for, and that's ability to pitch in the postseason. It's a mature club and we're adding a mature, quality pitcher."

With Finley off the market, teams will focus more on Aaron Sele, Andy Benes, Darren Oliver, Omar Olivares and Steve Trachsel.

Hernandez, 30, hit .266 with 19 homers and 62 RBIs in 508 at-bats last season. Milwaukee signed him after trading third baseman Jeff Cirillo, who batted .326 with 15 homers and 88 RBIs in 607 at-bats.

"We certainly feel he has the power to play the position and we feel his athleticism and work ethic will fit very well," Brewers general manager Dean Taylor said.

Hernandez, who made $2.4 million last season, gets a $1 million signing bonus and $3 million in each of the next three season.

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