Atlanta Braves Pitcher Russ Ortiz Signs Four-Year Deal With Arizona

Ortiz To Make $33 Million With Diamondbacks

Saturday, December 11, 2004 - by Tim Evearitt
After two years with the Atlanta Braves, pitcher Russ Ortiz has signed a four-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. <i>Click to enlarge photo.</i>
After two years with the Atlanta Braves, pitcher Russ Ortiz has signed a four-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Click to enlarge photo.
- photo by Tim Evearitt

The fact that the Atlanta Braves' are on a restricted budget for 2005 made it a no-brainer to say farewell to Russ Ortiz.

Arizona signed the right-hander to a four-year deal worth $33 million. This means that Ortiz, who lives in Arizona, will spend spring training and play near his home. This means a lot to Ortiz, a devoted family man and the father of two little girls.

Ortiz was 15-9 with a 4.13 ERA last year for the Braves and won 21 games for Atlanta in 2003. In his seven-year career, he has a 103-60 mark.

Because Ortiz was not offered arbitration, the Braves will not receive draft-pick compensation from the D-Backs as a result of the deal.

The Diamondbacks brushed off Russ Ortiz's second half slide being more impressed instead with his overall consistency.

The 30-year-old is the only Major Leaguer to win at least 14 games, pitch at least 195 innings and strike out more than 140 batters in each of the last six seasons. He has pitched more than 200 innings in each of the last four years and in five of the last six.

The Diamondbacks were excited to get the starting pitcher they have coveted since the offseason began.

"He's certainly a guy we've earmarked from Day One," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said.

"If Russ Ortiz is anything, he's a competitor," one of Arizona's owners said. "What does a competitor do? As a pitcher, he goes out there every time his turn comes up and he puts his life on the line, and this guy has done that."

When looking for a place to sign, Ortiz said it was important that the team be competitive. Despite a 51-111 record last year, the Diamondbacks were able to convince him that they would be much improved in 2005.

"From the very beginning of the organization they wanted to win," Ortiz said. "They've done that and they want to continue that. That's what we heard in the meeting and that's what excited me about this whole situation."

One of the byproducts the Diamondbacks were hoping for out of signing infielder Troy Glaus was that it would send a message, not to just Randy Johnson and their fan base, but that it would also influence other free agents they had their eye on.

It is becoming more and more likely that the Big Unit, Randy Johnson, will be back with the Diamondbacks.
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Adapted from article on the MLB.com website.

The Braves have offered arbitration to right hander Paul Byrd. <i>Click to enlarge photo.</i>
The Braves have offered arbitration to right hander Paul Byrd. Click to enlarge photo.
- photo by Tim Evearitt

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