CINCINNATI -- The Reds' goal to retain three of their key free agents is one-third complete. On Thursday, right-handed reliever Mike Lincoln was re-signed to a two-year contract worth $4 million, becoming the first major offseason transaction for the club. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty is also trying to bring back reliever David Weathers and infielder/outfielder Jerry Hairston Jr. before the week ends. Jocketty didn't think negotiations were far apart with either player.
"I've talked with both Weathers' and Hairston's agents today -- we'll see," Jocketty said Thursday night. Lincoln's performance for the Reds last season didn't just revive a dormant Major League career, it proved quite lucrative, too. The 33-year-old will make an annual base salary of $1.5 million in 2009 and $2.5 million in '10. The contract also includes incentive bonuses of up to $250,000 bases on games pitched and a possible $450,000 based on games finished. The signing capped a long comeback effort for Lincoln, who returned to the Major Leagues in 2008 after he missed nearly four years recovering from two different ulnar collateral ligament surgeries on his right elbow. After he made the Reds out of Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, Lincoln was 2-5 with a 4.48 ERA in 70 1/3 innings over a career-high 64 appearances. He retired 49 of 64 first batters he faced and had 12 of 49 inherited runners score. At one point, Lincoln enjoyed a 19-scoreless-innings streak. His numbers tailed off toward the second half, in part because of a rough August. His second half ERA was 5.89, compared to 3.89 in the first half. Overall, he allowed 10 homers. "He really pitched well for us," Jocketty said. "He wore down at the end of the year, because he hadn't pitched in the big leagues for a long time. We expect him to be better in that area." Reports out of Minneapolis said that Lincoln was also hotly pursued by the Twins. The competition drove the Reds to add the second year to the deal. "It's what we had to do to keep him from signing somewhere else, but the money was right," Jocketty said.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.