MIAMI - New ballpark or not, Mike Lowell is staying with the Marlins.
Lowell, who could have opted out of his contract because the team hasn't secured new stadium financing, agreed Friday to a revised deal in which the team guarantees the remaining $25.5-million on his contract.
"I was hopeful that things would work out because I want to be a Florida Marlin," said Lowell, a three-time All-Star third baseman who hit .293 with 27 home runs and 85 RBIs last season. "It would have been hard for me to play under a one-year deal. ... It's only logical I'd want to play for the long term."
Lowell, who went to high school in South Florida and attended Florida International University in Miami, signed a $32-million, four-year contract before last season - with a provision that if no new ballpark deal was in place by Monday, the final two seasons would be voided and Lowell would have a player option for 2005.
Florida has made strides toward securing that new ballpark, a 38,000-seat, retractable-roof facility that would be built adjacent to Miami's Orange Bowl at an estimated cost of $420-million. And like the team, Lowell is confident that a deal is on the way.
"I do think a stadium is going to happen," said the 30-year-old Lowell, who has hit .277 and set franchise-records with 135 home runs and 520 RBIs in six seasons with the Marlins.
Some gaps still exist in the stadium funding plan, and the team wants state government to commit $30-million for the project. The team has committed $192-million toward construction, with city and county governments pledging at least $148-million more.
Team president David Samson said he hopes the city, county and club can agree on the parameters of a financing plan by the end of November - which would leave the sales tax rebate from the state as, he said, "the last piece of the puzzle."
"We're still pushing hard for a stadium to open as early as possible," said Samson, who's aiming for a facility to be completed by 2007 or 2008.
"I think this is a positive message from the Marlins' standpoint," Lowell said.
CUBS: The team exercised its $2-million option on Ryan Dempster after the right-hander showed last season he had recovered from Tommy John surgery. Dempster, 27, was 2-2 with a 3.92 ERA in 23 relief appearances. He held opposing batters to a .208 average and allowed 16 hits in 202/3 innings.
REDS: The team picked up Sean Casey's contract option for 2006, an indication they have no intention of trading the popular first baseman who is among the team's highest-paid players.
YANKEES: The team declined its 2005 option on former Devil Rays first baseman Travis Lee and its 2006 option on reliever Paul Quantrill.