Cedeno agrees to dlrs 18 million, four-year contract with Mets

Thursday, December 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOSTON (AP) _ Outfielder Roger Cedeno returned to the New York Mets on Thursday, agreeing to an dlrs 18 million, four-year contract.

The 27-year-old switch-hitter spent 1999 with the Mets, hitting .313 with four homers, 36 RBIs and a team-record 66 steals. He gives the Mets a leadoff threat and offense for an outfield that struggled to produce at the plate last season.

``The element he added to our offense was something that made us very successful for the time he was there,'' Mets general manager Steve Phillips said.

The free agent was the latest acquisition for the busy Mets. In the last week, they acquired All-Star second baseman Roberto Alomar and outfielder David Justice.

Cedeno was dealt to Houston after the 1999 season with pitcher Octavio Dotel and minor league left-hander Kyle Kessel for left-hander Mike Hampton and Derek Bell.

Cedeno struggled in 2000, playing just 74 games and hitting .282 with six homers, 26 RBIs and 25 steals. After the season, Houston traded him to Detroit with right-hander Chris Holt and catcher Mitch Meluskey for catcher Brad Ausmus and right-handers Doug Brocail and Nelson Cruz.

With Detroit, Cedeno rebounded to bat .293 with six homers, 48 RBIs and 55 steals, one behind major league leader Ichiro Suzuki of Seattle.

Cedeno said five other teams, including Seattle, were interested in signing him and he took less money to play with the Mets.

``I was interested in playing with the Mets,'' he said. ``I wanted to go back to the National League. I know the team. I know New York. I'm very excited to be coming back.''

Cedeno joins an outfield mix that includes Justice, acquired Friday from the Yankees, and returnees Jay Payton, Benny Agbayani, Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Timo Perez.

Cedeno gets a dlrs 1.5 million signing bonus, dlrs 2 million next year, dlrs 4.5 million in 2003 and dlrs 5 million in 2004.