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Indians to extend Westbrook's deal

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Indians to extend Westbrook's deal

Postby The Balanced Man » Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:35 am

04/13/2007 11:00 AM ET
Indians to extend Westbrook's deal
Tribe agrees to keep 29-year-old pitcher through 2010
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- Over the last few seasons, right-hander Jake Westbrook has emerged as one of the Indians' most consistent pitchers.

Now, his address will remain consistent, too.

The Indians will hold a press conference this afternoon to announce the signing of Westbrook to a three-year contract extension through the 2010 season, MLB.com has learned. The contract does not include any option years. Financial terms were not immediately available.

The Indians began contract negotiations with Westbrook, who would have been eligible for free agency after the '07 season, during Spring Training. The two sides had enough momentum toward a deal to prolong the talks into the season.

Westbrook's 44 victories between 2004-06 were tied for fifth-most among American League pitchers, behind Johan Santana (55), Kenny Rogers (49) and Jon Garland (48). He's one of just four AL pitchers to post at least 14 wins in each of the last three seasons, joining Santana, Rogers and teammate Cliff Lee.

The 29-year-old Westbrook, who is in his seventh season with the Indians, has been remarkably durable over the last three years. He pitched at least 210 2/3 innings in the 2004, '05 and '06 seasons.

In two starts this season, Westbrook is 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA, giving up nine earned runs in 11 innings. He is the Tribe's scheduled starter for Tuesday's series opener in New York.

At the outset of the '07 season, Westbrook, who was acquired by the Tribe as a player to be named in the 2000 trade that sent David Justice to the Yankees, said he prides himself on setting an example for the Indians' younger arms.

"When you first come in, you're looking toward Charles Nagy and Chuck Finley and seeing how they do it," he said. "Now, you're kind of that guy. [The young pitchers] watch how we go about our business, and we have to be examples for them. They can see something I do or C.C. [Sabathia] does, and it can help them out and make them a better pitcher."

With a new deal in hand, Westbrook can keep trying to set that example for years to come.

The Indians have two other core players -- Sabathia and Travis Hafner -- nearing free agency, as they'll be eligible after 2008. Negotiations with Sabathia were cut off during Spring Training, but talks with Hafner continued into the season.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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