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Angels May Trade Prospects for Free Agent Blyleven

Times Staff Writer

The Angels, attempting to cash in on another free-agent fire sale, reportedly are close to trading for Bert Blyleven, the Minnesota Twins’ 37-year-old starting pitcher.

Blyleven, who was 10-17 with a 5.43 earned-run average in 1988, can file for free agency now that the World Series is over. The Twins, who do not want to lose him and receive nothing in return, hope to trade him for a package of minor league players.

“We’d like to get somebody for him--a minor league player or two minor leaguers--who we feel is a prospect maybe,” Twin General Manager Andy MacPhail told the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch.

The Angels recently acquired Lance Parrish, a free-agent-to-be, from the Philadelphia Phillies in similar fashion, trading Class A pitcher David Holdridge for the veteran catcher. Angel General Manager Mike Port has given MacPhail a list of names, and the number of minor leaguers to be included in the deal is still to be determined.

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“We’ve been holding discussions with Minnesota and expect to have more in the next couple of days,” Port said. “Pitching is one of the areas where we’re looking to improve ourselves.”

Blyleven is coming off a disappointing season in which he spent 1 1/2 months on the disabled list with a thumb injury. The losing season was his first since 1983, when he was 7-10 with Cleveland, and his ERA this season was the highest of his 19-year career.

The Angels, however, had only 2 pitchers with 10 or more victories on their 1988 pitching staff--Mike Witt (13-16) and Willie Fraser (12-13).

“He’s getting along in years and he had a thumb problem, but he’s a guy who’ll give you 200 innings a year,” one Angel source said. “He’d be coming back home to Anaheim, where he lives. And getting to pitch in an outdoor park in greater regularity should also be a help to him.”

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While with Minnesota, Blyleven set a major league record by allowing 50 home runs in 1986. He allowed 46 in 1987, most in the American League, and in 1988, he yielded 21 in 33 starts.

Blyleven’s salary this season was in the $1-million range, and the Twins are believed to be offering him $800,000, which represents a 20% cut, the maximum allowed under the current major league labor agreement. Only one-sixth of the offer, or $133,333, would be guaranteed.

Blyleven has long expressed a desire to pitch in Southern California, and he nearly became an Angel in 1985. He was then pitching for Cleveland, and the Angels offered a package of pitcher Kirk McCaskill and second baseman Mark McLemore. The Indians vetoed the deal at the last minute and wound up trading him to Minnesota in August 1985 for pitchers Curt Wardle and Rich Yett, infielder Jay Bell and outfielder Jim Weaver.

From 1986 to 1988 with the Twins, Blyleven was 42-43. His career record is 254-226.


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