Coming off a season in which he won 18 games and helped the San Diego Padres reach the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed starting pitcher Kevin Brown to a record deal worth $105 million for seven years. The contract made Brown the first player in major league history to sign a $100 million deal.
The then 33-year-old was a 12-year veteran with 139 career victories at the time of the deal. In 1998, Brown went 18-7 with a 2.38 ERA and 257 strikeouts in 35 starts for the Padres. He spent most of his career with the Texas Rangers, winning 21 games in 1992. Brown also pitched for the Baltimore Orioles and the Florida Marlins, winning the 1997 World Series.
The deal was unheard of at the time and was almost $40 million more than any other team offered. The length of the deal put Brown under contract until his age-40 season. It also brought criticism from many around baseball, including Commissioner Bud Selig who declined comment at the time.
Brown did well in his first year with the Dodgers, going 18-9 with a 3.00 ERA and 221 strikeouts in 35 starts. He threw 252.1 innings and had five complete games. The right-hander finished sixth in the National League Cy Young vote to make the deal seem a little less outrageous.
The next season went fairly well for Brown, as he led the league with a 2.58 ERA but went just 13-6. He started 33 games and threw over 200 innings for the fifth straight season.
However, the next two seasons were injury-plagued and Brown just started a combined 29 games. He came back a bit in 2003 with a 14-9 record, a 2.39 ERA and 185 strikeouts in 32 starts. Almost five years to the date after he signed the deal with the Dodgers, Brown was traded to the New York Yankees in exchange for Jeff Weaver, Yhency Brazoban, minor-leaguer Brandon Weeden and cash.
Brown pitched just two more seasons before announcing his retirement in 2006.
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