NEW YORK -- In the moments of exalt that followed the Mets' elimination of the Dodgers from the postseason in October, Willie Randolph spoke about how much he enjoyed watching his players celebrate.
"That's my reward," the Mets manager said in the middle of a crowded, loud and champagne-saturated visitors' clubhouse in Dodger Stadium. "Seeing them enjoy themselves the way I did when I won as a player."
A more tangible reward came his way late on Wednesday when his agent, Ron Shapiro, and the Mets agreed on a new contract for the 18th manager in franchise history. Randolph, who was to have earned $700,000 in 2007 and had no contract for beyond this season, agreed to a three-year deal that will pay him $1.4 million in '07, $1.8 million in '08 and $2.25 million in '09.
The contract also includes a club option for $2.5 million in 2010.
So ends a period of uneasy uncertainty that proved to be longer than anticipated and longer than it was confrontational. Whatever frustrations or disagreements that may have developed never manifested themselves in any unbecoming way before Randolph achieved the security he sought, and the club assured itself of retaining the services of a manager who has directed a renaissance in his first two years.
An official announcement of the new contract is to be made on Thursday. The Mets may also announce that Randolph's revised staff of coaches -- Manny Acta having gone to manage the Nationals and Howard Johnson taking his place -- has been signed. Pitching coach Rick Peterson is believed to have agreed to a three-year deal.
The extension and restructuring of Randolph's contract came months after his team became the first Mets team in 18 years to win a National League East Division title. The Mets won 97 games -- they and the Yankees had the best records in the Majors in '06 -- after winning 83 in Randolph's first season.
Despite a series of injuries that undermined the team's starting rotation, the Mets finished 12 games ahead of the second-place Phillies and 18 ahead of the defending division champion Braves.
Moreover, he is generally credited with having changed the "culture in the clubhouse." Opposing managers routinely acknowledged that Randolph's teams play the game properly.
Until Randolph, no big-league manager ever had achieved improvement of at least 12 victories in each of his first two years on the job (strike-shortened seasons excluded). The last manager to achieve such improvement in successive seasons -- not necessarily his first two -- was Gil Hodges who, after managing the Senators, moved to manage the Mets in 1968. His first team won 12 more games than its predecessor. The 1969 Mets won 100, an improvement of 27 games, and the World Series.
Randolph's second team fell one victory short of the World Series. The new contract includes bonuses based on postseason achievements.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.