MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins pitcher Brad Radke said Monday that he believes his new contract signifies a new era for the team that in recent years has been among baseball's worst.
Radke, 27, agreed to a new four-year contract Monday worth a reported $36 million and containing an opt-out clause after 2001 and a no-trade provision for the final three years of the deal.
The deal is the richest in team history, with Radke's annual salary of about $9 million surpassing Kirby Puckett's highest salary of $7 million in 1996.
''This is just the beginning of good things to happen,'' Radke said before the Twins played the Red Sox. ''This team has a lot of potential.
The Twins have the lowest payroll in major league baseball, at $16.5 million this year. They are in last place in the American League Central. And the last time they finished higher than fourth was in 1992, when the Twins ended the season in second place.
''This is one player we needed to keep,'' said general manager Terry Ryan. ''It's our responsibility to move forward and improve this franchise.''
Manager Tom Kelly, who sat in the dugout and watched reporters and cameras surround Radke, said he felt cautiously optimistic about the Twins' future.
''This is a good building block for the Twins and the organization,'' he said.
Neither Radke nor team officials would confirm the salary.
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