Mets pitcher Niese happy with new deal

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 05, 2012
When Jonathon Niese strides to the mound Sunday for his first start of the year, he will do so with a new sense of confidence and a carefree attitude. That's what a $25.5 million contract can do for someone. The left-hander was smiling Thursday, a day after agreeing to a five year deal with the Mets that could keep him in New York through 2018. ''It means a lot. It's a relief. It's just a burden off my shoulders,'' the 25-year-old Niese said after the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 1-0. ''It's something that I don't have to think about. When I go out there to pitch I can just go out there, pitch, have fun, help my team win.'' The deal, expected to be finalized within a few days, was the first big move by the Mets since resolving the lawsuit by the trustee in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme and securing $240 million from a dozen minority investors to help shore up their finances. It also gives the Mets a bit of cost certainty as they try to rebuild a ballclub that has missed the playoffs every season since 2006. They slashed $43.4 million off last year's opening-day payroll, believed to be the largest one-year drop in baseball history. Texas cut by $38.7 million from the start of 2003 to opening day in 2004. Niese's deal is similar to one signed by another 25-year-old lefty, Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland. He agreed to a $28.5 million, five-year contract almost three weeks ago. Niese said it took about a week for the sides to work out the details of the contract and all that's left is for him to take a physical Friday. The deal includes a pair of club options at $10 million and $10.5 million. He is scheduled to make his first start of the season on Sunday. ''I'm not really surprised because they wanted to do it and they expressed interest,'' Niese said. ''I think both sides wanted to get it done fairly quickly before the season started.'' Niese went 11-11 with a 4.40 ERA last season. He made his last start on Aug. 23 at Philadelphia then finished the year on the disabled list with a ribcage injury. Over parts of four seasons, Niese is 22-23 with a 4.39 ERA. He had agreed in March to a one-year contract paying $519,550 in the major leagues and would have been eligible for salary arbitration after the season. All-Star outfielder Carlos Beltran, then with the Mets, offered last summer to pay for Niese to have surgery to correct a deviated septum. Niese had the operation in October and said last month that he's been breathing easier now that the right nostril no is longer blocked. Niese said Beltran had paid the $10,000 bill. Asked whether he would pay Beltran back, Niese said, ''Yeah, right!'' --- AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
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