DUNEDIN, Fla. — Pitcher Dave Stieb signed baseball's longest playing contract Friday, keeping him with the Toronto Blue Jays through 1995 and making him one of the highest-paid players in the game.
The contract was for 11 years, and the Blue Jays will pay out an estimated $16.6 million in salary. With deferred payments and incentives, the deal could be worth more than $25 million, Stieb's agent, Bob LaMonte, said.
Yet, LaMonte said money was not the primary concern for the 27-year-old Stieb, who had been unhappy in the past over his contract status with the Blue Jays. "You can get a lot of money in a lot of places and be an unhappy person," LaMonte said.
LaMonte said the deal broke down to $16.6 million in salary over the next 11 years, including a $700,000 signing bonus, and about $10 million in guaranteed annuity funded by deferred payments.
The minimum the contract can produce is $12.6 million, and Stieb would get that even if he were injured and never pitched another inning for Toronto. That figure is reached through guaranteed salary for three years--the Blue Jays' refuse to guarantee contracts longer than that--plus the annuity.
"I'm gratified to the Blue Jays for giving me security for the rest of my life," Stieb said. "They were making great improvements in the club. That was a factor in my wanting to stay here, to finish my career here."
The Blue Jays would not comment on details of the contract, but when Pat Gillick, the team's executive vice president, was asked if it made Stieb baseball's highest paid player, he said, "Pretty close."
"We wanted Dave to begin and end his career with the Blue Jays," Gillick said. "He is the epitome of our organization, a competitive individual who won't settle for anything less than excellence."
The pitcher's salary is broken down to $1 million a year for the next four years, including the $700,000 signing bonus spread over that period. LaMonte said $400,000 a year would be deferred into an annuity for tax purposes.
"In 1989, his salary goes to $1.5 million with an escalator clause of $100,000 annually over seven years to $2.1 million," the agent said.
George Foster of the New York Mets earns an estimated salary of $2.04 million per year, and Jim Rice recently signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox that pays him about $2 million per year.
Stieb has been the ace of the Toronto staff for the last five years and went 16-8 last season with a 2.83 earned-run average as the Jays finished second in the American League East. He was the starting pitcher for the AL in the last two All-Star games.