Dodgers Give Up Guerrero to Get Insurance : Acquisition of Tudor Fills Pitching Void
Believing that a quality left-handed starting pitcher was the final component to ensure a National League West title this season, the Dodgers Tuesday acquired veteran John Tudor from the St. Louis Cardinals for veteran slugger Pedro Guerrero.
The trade was completed Tuesday morning when Guerrero, who would have been a free agent at the end of the season, agreed to a contract extension for 3 seasons and $6.2 million, including a $400,000 bonus. Guerrero will receive $1.7 million next season, $1.95 million in 1990 and $2.15 million in 1991.
Tudor, 34, a veteran of nine seasons, gives the Dodgers a proven left-handed starter who helped pitch the Cardinals into the World Series in 1985 and 1987. Tudor, who missed most of spring training while he recovered from arthroscopic shoulder surgery, is 6-5 this season with a 2.29 earned-run average, best in the National League.
Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda, who will return to a five-man rotation, said Tudor is expected to fly to Los Angeles from St. Louis this morning and pitch tonight against the Philadelphia Phillies. Before the trade was made, Tudor was scheduled to pitch for the Cardinals Tuesday night.
To acquire Tudor, the Dodgers had to part with a proven slugger in Guerrero, 32, who, in his nine seasons with the Dodgers, had a career .309 average with 171 home runs and 585 runs batted in. Although he has hit .298 this season, the injury-prone Guerrero missed 52 days with a pinched nerve in his neck and has only 5 home runs and 35 RBIs. The Dodgers’ record without Guerrero in the lineup was 37-21. With Guerrero, they were 29-30.
The trade was first seriously discussed last weekend when Cardinal General Manager Dal Maxvill called the Dodgers’ executive vice president, Fred Claire.
Claire said that even with Guerrero’s past contributions, he did not hesitate to make the trade because he believed it was in the Dodgers’ best interest. The team has been without a left-handed starter since July 31, when Fernando Valenzuela went on the disabled list with an injured shoulder. Valenzuela has not picked up a ball since then.
“It was a matter of need,” Claire said. “And I felt a quality left-handed starter would help us more than Pete would at this time. There’s always a price to be paid in any trade. I’ve never really looked at a good trade where we won’t have to give up something to get something.”
Just as the Cardinals risked losing Guerrero to free agency if an agreement on a contract extension was not reached, the Dodgers are at risk of losing Tudor after the season ends.
A clause in the contracts of all players with more than five years of major league experience states that, if a player is traded during the season, he has the right to seek a trade two weeks after the conclusion of the World Series. Tudor could name six teams for which he would refuse to play, and the Dodgers would have until March 15 to accommodate him or lose him to free agency.
Steve Fryer, Tudor’s agent, said Tuesday that Tudor would be willing to waive the clause if the Dodgers provided monetary compensation. But Claire said the Dodgers will deal with that aspect of Tudor’s contract at the end of the season, when the contracts of many other Dodger players expire.
“Fred hasn’t made any movement for that, so I guess he’s just going to let the cards fall where they may,” Fryer said. “He could lose John. He was willing to waive the clause, but now, in a few months, John could demand a trade if he wants.”
Said Claire: “We’ve had discussions with John and his agent, but I’m confident that John will not want to leave the Dodgers after he has experienced playing here. I’d be very surprised if he asked for a trade after the season.”
In June, Tudor signed a contract extension through the 1989 season. At the time, Tudor told St. Louis writers that he would retire after next season. Fryer, however, said Tudor might be willing to talk about a contract extension. Tudor was not available for comment Tuesday.
“John has pitched through a lot of discomfort, but he feels great now,” Fryer said. “Maybe he will want to play longer. That’s a possibility.”
Claire said he had been talking to several teams about acquiring a left-handed starting pitcher, which was considered a necessity to the Dodgers’ pennant hopes because of Valenzuela’s uncertain status. The Dodgers had scouted Toronto Blue Jay left-hander Mike Flanagan, among others.
Claire said that many teams were asking for several of the Dodgers’ top young prospects for a quality starting pitcher and that he was not willing to part with prospects such as pitcher Ramon Martinez, 20, and minor league outfielder Mike Devereaux.
“Let’s just say Ramon Martinez’s name came up more than once,” he said.
But he said Tudor became the Dodgers’ top choice when Maxvill called about 10 days ago expressing an interest in a Tudor-for-Guerrero trade. Talks became serious during the weekend, and on Monday morning, the principals (with the blessing of the National League office) set a 48-hour time limit to complete the deal. It was consummated Tuesday morning, in slightly more than than 24 hours.
Claire said that Dr. Frank Jobe, the Dodgers’ physician, spoke with Dr. Stan London, the Cardinals’ physician, to trade medical histories of both players. Both have bulging files.
In addition to having arthroscopic shoulder surgery during the off-season, Tudor last season broke his right knee when New York Met catcher Barry Lyons collided with him while chasing a foul ball into the Cardinals’ dugout.
Guerrero continues to suffer from chronic neck soreness. Also, he had major surgery to repair a severed patellar tendon in his left knee before the 1986 season and still is periodically bothered by previous injuries to his right knee, left wrist and left shoulder.
Claire said the Dodgers have scouted Tudor’s recent starts and are convinced that he is fit. Claire also said that Guerrero’s history of injuries was a consideration in the team’s decision to trade him.
“You evaluate everything,” Claire said. “I’m sure the Cardinals also looked at John and thought he has had a lot of injuries, just as Pete has. Pete’s a quality player. We recognize that. The Cardinals recognize that. But his injuries were a consideration.”
Although some members of the Dodger organization have said that Guerrero has an attitude problem, Claire and Tony Attanasio, Guerrero’s attorney, said that was not true and that it was not a reason for the trade.
“I judge Pete just by Pete’s performance,” Claire said. “He is an emotional player. No isolated incidents played a part in this.”
Said Attanasio: “I never heard that (Guerrero was a bad influence), and I asked Fred and Peter (O’Malley, the Dodger owner). I didn’t think Pete’s attitude or demeanor had anything to do with it.”
In separate interviews, Guerrero and Attanasio said they believed that all season, Dodger management had no intention of re-signing Guerrero. They said the fact that the Dodgers did not try to give Guerrero a contract extension during spring training or in the early part of the season was an indicator.
Claire said his policy is not to negotiate contracts during the season.
“I suspected that from the first trip the Dodgers made (in April) to San Diego (where Attanasio resides),” Attanasio said. “I had a meeting with Fred Claire and asked him about it. I was told they’d take it into consideration. Two weeks later, I was told no, they won’t do it with any player.
“I knew they didn’t want him. Then, through conversations I’ve had with other teams, they (other teams) had said that Pete’s name had suffered in trade talks. I think he probably would have been dealt earlier had he not been hurt.”
Attanasio said he had heard that Claire was prepared to trade Guerrero, either to the Cardinals or another team within the next few days.
“Clearly, I didn’t foresee Pete with the Dodgers for any longer than the next few days,” Attanasio said. “Once they made public, or semi-public, their request to trade him, there’s no way they’d keep him if this deal fell through.
“I give Fred a lot of credit, because I believe he had two backup deals with Toronto and Detroit. But Pete did not want to be a rent-a-player in the American League. He wanted to stay in the National League. He enjoys playing in the field, and he’s better than a lot of people give him credit.”
Claire would not detail talks he had with other teams. But he said that once he learned that a pitcher of Tudor’s caliber was available, he made that his primary concern.
“There are a lot of pluses for John,” Claire said. “He has proven he can win the big ballgame. I think it’s very beneficial to the club that we were able to get a pitcher of his quality. He can really add a lot of talent and experience to our pitching staff.”
Tudor, who was in his fourth season with the Cardinals, has a 101-65 career record and 3.21 career ERA. He has started five World Series games, compiling a 3-2 record with a 4.03 ERA. In the 1985 National League playoffs against the Dodgers, Tudor was 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA. He won 21 games in 1985 and went 10-2 last season in only 16 starts because of the knee injury. This season, Tudor has had considerable success against the Dodgers. On May 1, his second start of the season after he came off the disabled list, Tudor had a no-hitter through six innings before he pulled himself from the game because he had exceeded his predetermined pitch-count.
A week later, in St. Louis, Tudor had a no-hitter against the Dodgers through seven innings before he yielded three hits and a run in the eighth. He did not get a decision in that game.
The last time the Dodgers faced Tudor, July 4 at Dodger Stadium, Tudor pitched a complete game but gave up 5 runs and 7 hits in a loss.
“That was his last bad start,” Claire said. “In 15 of his 21 starts, he’s pitched into the seventh inning. I like that consistency. In his last four starts, he’s pitched 32 innings and given up 5 earned runs. Phil Regan (a Dodger scout) saw his last start when he shut out Philadelphia, and he liked what he saw.”
Several Dodger players, acknowledging that they would miss Guerrero’s offensive potential, said a left-handed starting pitcher in lieu of Valenzuela was essential if the Dodgers are to hold off Houston and San Francisco in the West and win in the playoffs. “With Fernando down, we need this to compete with teams in the league,” infielder Dave Anderson said. “We only had one left-hander (Jesse Orosco), and he was in the bullpen. But we’re still going to have to score some runs. Pete has been a big part of it.”
Added pitcher Orel Hershiser: “The key in having a left-handed starter is that you can then bring in a right-handed reliever and flop the other team’s lineup around. Then you can bring back a left-handed reliever and they won’t have any pinch-hitters left. So it’s important.”
The particular left-hander the Dodgers have acquired has been portrayed as an extremely intense competitor. After he had lost the seventh game in the 1985 World Series, Tudor hurt his hand when he punched a dugout fan. After a bad inning in his July 4 start against the Dodgers, televised nationally, Tudor stormed to the dugout and stuffed his glove in a camera lens.
“John’s reputation precedes him,” Fryer said. “Don’t judge him by those incidents.”
Claire said he will judge Tudor only by his performance. He said he believes that the acquisition fills the club’s needs.
Are the Dodgers set for the season?
“I think so,” he said. “We have a ballclub that is in first place. And we’ve made an addition that will help greatly. We have the talent and attitude for the pennant drive, and having a veteran like John Tudor will only help.”
PEDRO GUERRERO’S CAREER STATISTICS
Year Team AB R H HR RBI Avg. REGULAR SEASON 1978 Dodgers 8 3 5 0 1 .625 1979 Dodgers 62 7 15 2 9 .242 1980 Dodgers 183 27 59 7 31 .322 1981 Dodgers 347 46 104 12 48 .300 1982 Dodgers 575 87 175 32 100 .304 1983 Dodgers 584 87 174 32 103 .298 1984 Dodgers 535 85 162 16 72 .303 1985 Dodgers 487 99 156 33 87 .320 1986 Dodgers 61 7 15 5 10 .246 1987 Dodgers 545 89 184 27 89 .338 1988 Dodgers 215 24 64 5 35 .298 Totals 11 Years 3463 561 1113 171 585 .309 PLAYOFFS Divisional Playoff 1981 Dodgers 17 1 3 1 1 .176 Totals 17 1 3 1 1 .176 League Championship Series 1981 Dodgers 19 1 2 1 2 .105 1983 Dodgers 12 1 3 0 2 .250 1985 Dodgers 20 2 5 0 4 .250 Totals 51 4 10 1 8 .196 WORLD SERIES 1981 Dodgers 21 2 7 2 7 .333 Totals 21 2 7 2 7 .333
JOHN TUDOR’S CAREER STATISTICS
Year Team IP W-L BB SO ERA REGULAR SEASON 1979 Red Sox 28 1-2 9 11 6.43 1980 Red Sox 92 8-5 31 45 3.03 1981 Red Sox 79 4-3 28 44 4.56 1982 Red Sox 195 13-10 59 146 3.63 1983 Red Sox 242 13-12 81 136 4.09 1984 Pirates 212 12-11 56 117 3.27 1985 Cardinals 275 21-8 49 169 1.93 1986 Cardinals 219 13-7 53 107 2.92 1987 Cardinals 96 10-2 32 54 3.84 1988 Cardinals 145 6-5 31 55 2.29 Totals 10 Years 1583 101-65 429 884 3.21 PLAYOFFS League Championship Series 1985 Cardinals 12 1-1 3 8 2.84 1987 Cardinals 15 1-1 5 12 1.76 Totals 28 2-2 8 20 2.25 WORLD SERIES 1985 Cardinals 18 2-1 7 14 3.00 1987 Cardinals 11 1-1 3 8 5.73 Totals 29 3-2 10 22 4.03