Lieber spent last season with the New York Yankees, going 14-8
with a 4.33 ERA in 27 starts. He was 1-1 with a 3.43 ERA in three
playoff starts for the Yankees, who wasted a 3-0 lead in the AL
championship series against Boston.
"I look forward to bringing this ballclub back into playoff
contention," Lieber said. "I got a taste of that last year, and
I'd like that to continue."
Lieber gets a $1 million signing bonus and will earn $5.25
million in 2005, $7.25 million in 2006 and $7.5 million in 2007.
Lieber, who turns 35 in April, joins a rotation that subtracted
Eric Milton and Kevin Millwood. Both free agents weren't offered
arbitration by the Phillies before Tuesday's midnight deadline,
meaning their brief careers in Philadelphia are all but over.
"He's a great competitor who's going to go out there and get us
deep into games and not give into hitters," Phillies general
manager Ed Wade said.
A 20-game winner with the Cubs in 2001, Lieber was just 6-8 the
following year and missed the entire 2003 season after undergoing
ligament-replacement surgery on his right elbow.
He sat out the first month of last season with a strained right
groin, but returned to become a valuable member of New York's
injury-depleted staff. He was 5-0 with a 3.12 ERA in his final six
starts and won seven of his last eight decisions.
"I'm glad to be back in the National League," Lieber said. "I
do feel like I am at full strength. I feel like I'll be a better
pitcher than what I was last year, and I look for big days ahead.
"Going to the American League last year, you didn't know what
to expect. I believe I passed that test, but coming back here, this
is where I feel most confident in excelling as a pitcher," he
Lieber began his career with Pittsburgh in 1994, pitched four
seasons with the Cubs and one year with the Yankees. He's 100-91
with a 4.20 ERA in 10 seasons. Lieber's best year was in 2001 when
he went 20-6 with a 3.80 ERA for Chicago. He's won at least 10
games four other times.
The Phillies, preseason favorites to win the NL East last year,
had a disappointing season, going 86-76. They fired manager Larry
Bowa, replacing him last month with former Indians manager Charlie
Despite setting a club-record in attendance in their first
season at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies are cutting their payroll,
which was $93.2 million at the start of last year.
Millwood ($11 million) and Milton ($9 million) save the Phillies
$20 million. The team re-signed Lidle to a $6.3 million, two-year
deal last month, acquired center fielder Kenny Lofton from the
Yankees last week and re-signed left-hander Rheal Cormier to a
$5.25 million, two-year contract on Tuesday.
Lofton will make $3.1 million next year, but the Yankees gave
$1,525,000 to the Phillies. Cormier is making $750,000 less in