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The Pirates completed their multiyear contract with catcher Ryan Doumit with a news conference yesterday at PNC Park, but to hear team president Frank Coonelly tell it, that probably will be it for the winter as far as internal extensions.

It became known last week that talks toward a multiyear contract with center fielder Nate McLouth were "close to dead," as agent Mike Nicotera described them. And Coonelly made clear yesterday that the same appears true of talks with starter Paul Maholm, the only other arbitration-eligible player the team has approached.

"It is entirely possible that this will be the only player with whom we reach a multiyear contract this year," Coonelly said of Doumit. "We have had difficulty persuading the representatives of the other players that multiyear contracts signed by comparable players have any relevance at all, and that the annual salaries must reflect, in contracts buying out arbitration years, that the club is shifting the risks of injury and below-expected performance from the player to the club."

Maholm's agent, Bo McKinnis, has not returned phone calls for weeks.

The Doumit contract, in stark contrast, was being hailed by both parties. The team secured the rights to its starting catcher for five years, through 2013, by guaranteeing three years and adding a club option for two more. The guaranteed value is $11.5 million and the maximum is roughly $27 million.

The contract featured a $300,000 signing bonus and pays Doumit $2.05 million next year, $3.55 million for 2010 and $5.1 million for 2011. The three guaranteed years that buy out the arbitration-eligible years are followed by club options of $7.25 million in 2012 and $8.25 million the next season.

There also are incentive and escalator clauses that increase the total value of the contract by $1 million or more. For example: If Doumit is an All-Star once in the first three years, the salary on each of the option years goes up by $125,000, by $350,000 if he is named twice, by $500,000 if he is named in all three.

The contract raised the number of multiyear extensions reached under Coonelly and general manager Neal Huntington to four, along with second baseman Freddy Sanchez and pitchers Ian Snell and Matt Capps.

None has reached as far into the future as this one.

"This contract has raised the bar in our eyes, in our fans' eyes and in Ryan's eyes," Huntington said. "He wants to be a great player, and he has to live up to this."

Some might see the term as jarring, given that Doumit, 27, had a history of injuries leading into a healthy, productive 2008 in which he batted .318 with 15 home runs and 69 RBIs.

"This contract did not happen because Ryan Doumit had a great year," Huntington said. "It happened because he worked hard, gave it all he had, showed team dedication and proved himself to be someone we could build around. And he's not done. There's more to come."

Doumit seemed genuinely moved by the signing, recalling that he nearly broke down last week when told some of the financial terms by his agent, Paul Cobbe.

"I can't relate to you what I feel right now," he said. "But I also know that, with a contract like this come high expectations. And no one has higher expectations than I do. I believe in myself. I know what type of player I can be, and I know what type of player the fans expect. It's my job and my duty as a Pittsburgh Pirate to give those fans everything I have."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: December 23, 2008

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