Mets' Valentine Gets New Contract

Tuesday, October 31st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Mets agreed Tuesday to new contracts with manager Bobby Valentine and general manager Steve Phillips, The Associated Press learned.

The Mets called a news conference for Tuesday afternoon, but did not announce the subject. A source familiar with the negotiations, speaking on the condition he not be identified, said it was to announce new contracts for Valentine and Phillips.

A day earlier, Phillips had said he hoped to have a resolution to the negotiations by Tuesday.

Valentine, the only manager to take the team to consecutive postseasons, had been under contract through midnight Tuesday.

At least one club had shown interest in Valentine. Cincinnati was reportedly denied permission to talk with him during the playoffs. There are currently three other manager openings.

``The time constraints are built in,'' Phillips said. ``From the beginning, the expectation was to get everything completed by midnight tomorrow (Tuesday). It is still possible. If not, things change. It will be a different environment in which we all live and have to make decisions.''

Valentine thought he should be compensated at least as well as Dusty Baker, who just signed a $5.3 million, two-year deal with San Francisco.

The Mets have a busy offseason ahead of them, with nine players eligible for free agency.

Mike Hampton, Rick Reed and Bobby J. Jones, three of the team's top four starters, are free to go, along with setup men Turk Wendell and John Franco.

Shortstop Mike Bordick filed for free agency last week, and Kurt Abbott, Derek Bell and Lenny Harris are also eligible, but aren't as high a priority for the Mets as the pitchers.

``It is safe to assume during this period of exclusivity that we will have contact with all representatives and give them our feeling about where things are,'' Phillips said. ``We will make proposals on some, get a feel for the market place on some, and some we will call and say we are moving in a different direction.''

The team also will likely pursue All-Star shortstop Alex Rodriguez, expected to be baseball's highest-paid player, and perhaps Baltimore ace Mike Mussina, if Hampton leaves.