Baseball: Cone is forced to settle for $12m deal with Yankees

DAVID CONE wanted a two-year deal from the New York Yankees, but the right-handed pitcher settled for a lucrative one-year contract with the World Series champions yesterday. The former Cy Young Award winner, who turns 37 in January, agreed to the shorter contract after the Yankees offered $12m (pounds 7.7m) for 2000.

Cone underwent surgery in 1996 to remove an aneurysm in his right arm but came back strongly later in the season and helped the New York win the World Series. He had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder following the 1997 campaign. The free agent, who helped the Yankees win back-to- back championships and three titles in four years, said there was not much interest in his services from other clubs because he had made no secret of his desire to remain in the Bronx.

"It was a problem," he said. "A lot of teams didn't take us seriously because they knew how much I love playing for the Yankees."

Cone had a record of 12 wins and nine losses in 1999 with a 3.44 ERA (earned run average), which ranked second in the American League behind the runaway Cy Young winner, Pedro Martinez of the Boston Red Sox.

Cone was used sparingly as last season wore on, and the strategy paid off in October, as Cone went 2-0 with a minuscule 1.29 ERA over 14 post- season innings.

The veteran pitcher, who was acquired by the Yankees in a 1995 trade with Toronto, earned $9.5m in 1999, when he was also pitching under a one-year contract. He has played in four All Star games and has a career record of 180 wins and 102 losses with the Yankees, the New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals. He won the 1994 American League Cy Young Award when he was with the Royals.