By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) - Free-agent outfielder Brady Anderson, dumped after 14 years by the Baltimore Orioles, signed a one-year contract Thursday with the Cleveland Indians.
Anderson, who will be 38 in January, agreed to a contract with club options for 2003 and 2004.
The signing is low risk for Cleveland, which has been looking for a corner outfielder and is trying to trim its payroll from $90 million to about $75 million for next season.
"With our budget constraints, Brady was without a doubt the best fit for us in order to obtain a championship-caliber player who can help us win in 2002," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said.
Baltimore released Anderson (pictured, above) after he batted just .202 -- 59 points below his career average -- with eight homers and 45 RBIs last season.
The Orioles ate the final season of a five-year, $31 million contract Anderson signed after the 1997 season. The Indians would have to pay $200,000 of Anderson's salary, with the Orioles picking up the remaining $3.8 million for next season.
The Indians were one of several teams interested in signing Anderson, a three-time All-Star who hit 50 home runs in 1996. The New York Yankees also pursued Anderson, but decided to break off talks.
Anderson has played most of his career in centerfield, but will likely bat leadoff and play leftfield for the Indians. With Anderson leading off, Indians manager Charlie Manuel could bat centerfielder Milton Bradley near the bottom of the order.
Bradley was acquired last season in a trade with Montreal, and the youngster wouldn't feel as much pressure hitting lower in the order with Anderson around.
The Indians will also benefit from Anderson's leadership in the clubhouse.
In Cleveland, Anderson will be reunited with former teammates Eddie Murray and second baseman Roberto Alomar.
Murray, a future Hall of Famer, was recently hired as the Indians' batting coach, and Shapiro said Murray thinks most of Anderson's problems last season were mechanical and can be fixed.
Anderson recently said that he felt slighted in being released by the Orioles on Nov. 16, but was encouraged that other teams were still interested in his services.
"I had my mind made up to finish my career in Baltimore," he said. "Now you want to go where you're wanted."
(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)