PHILADELPHIA -- Brett Myers became the fourth Phillie to avoid the often messy arbitration process, when he agreed on Thursday to a three-year, $25.75 million extension. The deal covers his final two arbitration years and delays free agency until after the 2009 season. He avoided a hearing last season by agreeing to a one-year, $3.3 million pact. This new pact carries an average annual salary of $8.58 million, though he could earn more with incentives. "It's important because he's part of our core," assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He's one of those guys we developed, and pitching is so valuable at this stage."
"I've grown up in this organization and this is where I want to stay," said Myers, a first-round draft pick in 1999. "I love pitching in Philadelphia, I love the ballpark, I love the fans and having Charlie as the manager and guys like Chase Utley around for the next few years was a big part of my decision." Myers also loves being part of what is arguably the NL's deepest starting rotation. He'll slot in behind Freddy Garcia, and ahead of Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer and Adam Eaton. "I couldn't imagine myself playing for another organization or with another group of guys," Myers said. "It would probably be a culture shock." Myers, 26, went 12-7 with a 3.91 ERA in 31 starts, leading the pitching staff in wins, ERA, starts, innings, strikeouts, winning percentage and opponents' batting average. He finished fifth in the NL in strikeouts with 189, compiling an NL-leading 107 in the second half of the season. "We're very pleased to have gotten this deal done with Brett, who is arguably one of the premier pitchers in the National League," Amaro said. "He's a proven top-of-the-rotation starter." In an era where free-agent pitchers Gil Meche, Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis can earn at least $10 million per season, Myers is viewed as a bargain. Granted, his status as a second-year arbitration-eligible player doesn't carry the leverage of an unrestricted free agent, but Myers had hoped for some security. The Phillies, meanwhile, didn't want to go more than three years. "There are deals out there that are longer for younger pitchers who have been healthy (like Myers)," Amaro said. "A three-year deal was very valuable for us." Righthander Geoff Geary is now the Phillies' lone arbitration-eligible player. If no agreement is reached, his hearing is scheduled for Feb. 19. The Phillies haven't lost an arbitration case and haven't gone since beating Travis Lee in 2001. Myers was the 12th overall pick in 1999, and made his Major League debut in 2002. He has a career record of 54-40 with a 4.34 ERA. He's one of three starters in the rotation to have been drafted by the Phillies in the first round, along with Eaton (1996) and Hamels (2002).
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.