MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL Marlins land big fish in Delgado

Florida wanted a left-handed power hitter, and the bidding was fierce.
MIAMI (AP) -- Carlos Delgado wanted to play for a contender, and the Florida Marlins look like one now.
Delgado agreed Tuesday to a $52 million, four-year contract. The deal, which includes an option year making it potentially worth $64 million over five seasons, is contingent on Delgado passing a physical today.
With the addition of the free-agent first baseman, Florida becomes perhaps the team to beat in the NL East.
"It's a spectacular day for the franchise," owner Jeffrey Loria said. "I'm going to spring training tomorrow. I'm not waiting."
The Marlins won the World Series in 1997 and 2003 but still are seeking their first division title. They also want to win support for a new ball park.
"We're about trying to be a very competitive ball club, and the stadium will take of itself in due time," Loria said. "But Carlos certainly is not going to hurt that effort."
He's worth the money
The Marlins landed the most formidable left-handed power hitter in their 12-season history, and it took the franchise's richest per-season deal to do it. Florida won out over the New York Mets, Texas and Baltimore.
Delgado receives just $4 million this year but makes $13.5 million in 2006, $14.5 million in 2007 and $16 million in 2008, according to terms obtained by the AP. The agreement includes a $16 million option for 2009 that would become guaranteed based on how Delgado does in MVP voting and whether he earns postseason MVP awards.
If the option year doesn't become guaranteed, Florida would have the right to exercise a $12 million option. If the option is declined, Delgado would get a $4 million buyout.
The Marlins made an initial offer of $35 million for three years, then went even higher to win the bidding. The contract will push their payroll above $56 million for the first time.
Delgado, 32, hit at least 30 homers each of the past eight seasons in Toronto. Last season he batted .269 with 32 homers and 99 RBIs.
"He's got numbers that are quite spectacular," Loria said. "It's always 30 to 40-something home runs, always 100-plus RBIs, and it's a presence and a kind of person we like to have on this ball club."
Desperate need for power
The Marlins were 11th in the NL in runs and 12th in homers last year. Their top left-handed hitter, Juan Pierre, hit three home runs.
Florida sealed the deal 10 days after Delgado flew from his native Puerto Rico to Miami and spent 51/2 hours with team officials, including Loria.
Under the agreement, the option year would become guaranteed if Delgado accumulates 30 points in the next four years. He would get 10 points for winning the NL MVP award, nine for finishing second and so on under a formula that gives him one point for finishing 10th. He would get 20 points if he's the World Series MVP and 10 if he's the league championship series MVP.
Texas withdrew its $48 million, four-year offer on Sunday. The Orioles also offered $48 million over four years.

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