$10M option too expensive for Mets

NEW YORK -- Al Leiter became a free agent Monday when the
New York Mets declined his $10.2 million option and decided to pay
a $2.1 million buyout.

The left-hander went 10-8 with a 3.21 ERA in 30 starts last
season. He began the year by pitching 15 1/3 scoreless innings,
then was on the disabled list from May 11 to June 1 because of
tendinitis in his left shoulder.

A member of the Mets for the last seven seasons, the 39-year-old
Leiter also has pitched for the New York Yankees, Toronto and

The Mets had said they were interested in keeping Leiter, but
not at the price of the option. Kris Benson, another starter the
Mets say they hope to re-sign, also became a free agent.

If the Mets had exercised the option, Leiter would have had 10
days to accept or reject it.