Contract could top out at $21M

Free-agent second baseman Luis Castillo liked the ring of the Florida Marlins.

It was one of the reasons why Castillo, a two-time All-Star, decided to remain with the World Series champions, reaching agreement Monday night on a three-year contract worth $16 million. The figure also includes a $2 million signing bonus.

"In the end, Luis chose to stay with the organization he has
known since he was 16," agent Sam Levinson said.

The New York Mets made a strong push for Castillo, with general manager Jim Duquette also offering a three-year deal. The Chicago Cubs also were in the mix and so, to a lesser extent, was Boston.

Had he gone to the Mets, the Marlins were working on trades for either Orlando Hudson of the Blue Jays or Junior Spivey, who was traded Monday from the Diamondbacks to the Brewers.

But Castillo decided to take less money to stay with the
Marlins, the team that signed him as a teenager in 1992.

His contract includes a $5.25 million option for 2007 that Castillo can guarantee by getting an unspecified number of plate appearances during the life of the contract. That would bring the total value of the deal to four years, $21.25 million.

Castillo hit a team-high .314 with six home runs and 39 RBI
last season. He also stole 21 bases. His 214 steals over the last
five years are the most in the majors.

Castillo drew raves for his defensive skills and earned his
first Gold Glove award.

The Marlins' move to keep Castillo came a week after they traded
Gold Glove first baseman Derrek Lee to the Cubs for first baseman
Hee Seop Choi and a minor leaguer to be named.

The deal for Lee raised speculation that Marlins would break up
their championship team, much as they did shortly after winning the
1997 World Series.

Castillo, 28, was an All-Star the last two seasons. He also is a
two-time NL stolen base champion and led the league in sacrifice
bunts this years, batting behind speedy leadoff man Juan Pierre.

Though Castillo had a rough postseason, batting .200 overall and
.154 in the six-game World Series win over the New York Yankees, he
played a key role.

Castillo broke an 0-for-14 slump with an RBI single that snapped
a scoreless tie in the fifth inning of the deciding Game 6 at
Yankee Stadium. The Marlins wound up winning 2-0.

Castillo is a career .292 hitter with 250 steals in eight

Information from ESPN.com senior writer Jayson Stark and The Associated Press was used in this report.