The perks of the presidency include the chance to organize a hot stove league dinner at the White House, so President Bush invited Garret Anderson and several other major leaguers to Washington last winter. During the evening, Bush turned to Anderson and asked him the question on the mind of every Angel fan.
"How's your contract going?" Bush said.
After months of on-again, off-again negotiations that attracted national attention, the Angels signed Anderson to a contract extension on Tuesday. Anderson, 31, who would have been eligible for free agency this fall, agreed to a deal that guarantees him $48 million over four years, starting in 2005, and could pay as much as $59 million over five years.
"I never thought about leaving, ever," he said. "They were going to have to nudge me out of the door. I couldn't see myself wearing another uniform."
If Anderson collects hits over the next six seasons at the rate he has over the last three, he would have over 2,800 career hits and would open the 2010 season, at age 38, perhaps one season away from the 3,000-hit milestone that confers legitimacy to a Hall of Fame candidacy. Owner Arte Moreno said he wants Anderson to play his entire career as an Angel.
Anderson hoped to complete a deal before the season started and, as it turned out, he did. General Manager Bill Stoneman said parameters were agreed upon during the final weekend of spring training, with details finalized last week and the announcement reserved for Tuesday's home opener.
Anderson, the Angels' most valuable player three years running and the MVP of last season's All-Star Game, will make $6.2 million this season. He will receive a signing bonus of $3 million and salaries of $9 million next year, $10 million in 2006, $11 million in 2007 and $12 million in 2008. In 2009, the Angels hold the option to pay the outfielder a $14-million salary or $3-million buyout.
Although his average annual salary of $12 million trails those of newcomers Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon, and although Manager Mike Scioscia has called him one of the game's five best batters, Moreno said he did not believe Anderson had signed for a hometown discount.
"I think it was a great deal for them," Moreno said, "and a good deal for us."
The Angels offered $8 million a year, then $10 million. After the team signed Guerrero for $14 million a year, Anderson's representatives asked for the same money.
Anderson said he had no interest in exploring free agency to determine his value unless the Angels shooed him away.
"If I'm below market with what I'm being paid, then I'm below market," he said. "If somebody gets mad and says I'm underpaid, well, that's debatable anyway."
Said Scioscia: "These kinds of things don't always happen this way. Look at a guy like Vlad, or [Gary] Sheffield, or [Miguel] Tejada. No matter how much they want to stay in one place, it doesn't always work out."