Clemens pitches high and wins with new Yankees contract

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The Independent Online

The sporting world is well used to oversized contracts these days, but they usually are based on services rendered. Roger Clemens, however, clearly merits different treatment.

The sporting world is well used to oversized contracts these days, but they usually are based on services rendered. Roger Clemens, however, clearly merits different treatment.

In a development that underlines the fact that the New York Yankees know few limits when it comes to splashing the cash - if anyone was in the slightest doubt - the World Series champions for three of the last four years have signed the pitcher to a three-year contract extension worth an estimated $30.9m (£21.2m).

What is surprising about the deal is that while Clemens won back-to-back Cy Young Awards for best pitcher with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997 and 1998, the 18 months the future Hall-of-Famer has been with the Yankees have been fairly unimpressive.

Clemens will receive a $5m signing bonus, to be paid over the next two years, and an annual salary of $7.8m in 2001 and in 2002. There is a third-year option for $10.3m and, remarkably, Clemens has the right to accept the option and play for the Yankees or reject it and still collect the money.

Still, he might just be worth it. On Sunday against Anaheim Angels, in his first start since signing the new deal, Clemens allowed one run, walked three batters and struck out two in a 4-1 victory. He has now not lost a game since 9 June, to the New York Mets.

Clemens exited in the seventh with only a 2-1 lead, and it was left to closer Mariano Rivera, the Most Valuable Player in the last two of the World Series, to shut out the Angels. He got the last five outs for his 26th save in 30 chances.

"Roger spent it all," the Yankees manager, Joe Torre, said. "In a low-scoring game, every single pitch means more, and they take more out of you."

Clemens said: "It's good to know I'll have the opportunity to play here for a few more years, but that didn't change my approach or attitude."

Another recent deal - $90m over six years for the Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, a player only just coming out of a dreadful slump at the plate - had the home-run specialist Sammy Sosa heralding the dawn of a new era.

"It's going to open the door for a lot of us and help other players," Sosa said. "Hopefully, in the future, I'm looking for the same thing with the Cubs. My value is going to go up, seeing the way they took care of Chipper. I don't want to talk about dollars, but is this contract going to help? Yeah, it's going to help."

Sosa, who will soon turn 32, is looking for a six-year contract that would pay him $17m or $18m a season. "We have to sit down at the end of the year and talk money," he added. "Hopefully, I can be happy like Chipper." With those kinds of sums, there is every chance of that.

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