Baseball: Brown strikes it rich

KEVIN BROWN yesterday became baseball's first $100m man, by signing a seven-year $105m (pounds 63m) contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

At an average of $15m per season, Brown also surpassed Mo Vaughn as the highest annual earner. Vaughn signed a six-year deal with the Dodgers' American League neighbours, the Anaheim Angels, earlier this month that averages $13.3m per year.

"We were comfortable with the terms. We were comfortable with the marketplace," said Kevin Malone, the Dodgers general manager, who has revamped a team that has not been to a World Series since 1988.

The 33-year-old Brown won 18 games in 1998 and led the San Diego Padres to their first World Series appearance since 1984. The Dodgers will be Brown's third team in as many seasons after he helped the Florida Marlins to a World Series triumph in 1997.

Scott Boras, Brown's agent, said that his client will receive $10m next season, along with a $5m signing bonus, and $15m over each of the remaining six years of the deal. One of the perks of the deal allows Brown's wife and school-aged children to make up to 12 annual visits during the season to see him in Los Angeles.

Brown was not present when the full details of his new contract were announced at the winter meetings. The pitcher is, however, scheduled to meet with the media next week in Los Angeles.

The $105m bonanza for Brown shattered the existing figure for a top total salary - the $91m over seven years given to Mike Piazza, the former Dodger, by the New York Mets.