CHICAGO – Bobby Howry agreed to a $12 million, three-year contract with the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, becoming the second free agent reliever in a week to join the team’s restocked bullpen.

The terms of Howry’s deal were revealed by two people familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because Chicago had not yet announced the deal.

A week earlier, the Cubs agreed to a contract with Scott Eyre that guaranteed the left-hander $11 million over three years. Like Eyre, Howry once pitched for the Chicago White Sox.

The 32-year-old Howry pitched for the White Sox from 1998 until he was deal at the 2002 trade deadline to the Boston Red Sox. In 1999, he saved 28 games for the White Sox.

Howry initially joined the White Sox from the San Francisco Giants organization in the so-called “White Flag” trade of 1997, when Chicago traded away three of its top pitchers at the deadline, even though the White Sox trailed by only a slim margin in the AL Central.

Howry spent the last two seasons with the Indians and appeared in 79 games last season, going 7-4 record with a 2.47 ERA. He allowed only four homers in 73 innings.

He and Eyre will give the Cubs strong setup men for closer Ryan Dempster.

Chicago’s offseason interests also have included free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal and perhaps another starting pitcher, especially if Kerry Wood – who had shoulder surgery late last season – is not ready for the beginning of the season.

Howry, who is represented by agent Craig Landis, made $900,000 last season.

AP-ES-11-23-05 1939EST

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