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Angels Sweeten Ryan Offer, but Astros Up Ante, Too

Times Staff Writer

There was much ado and little of consequence on the Nolan Ryan front Tuesday as:

--The Angels reportedly sweetened their initial offer to the 41-year-old pitcher by including attendance clauses that, if met, would earn Ryan above the $1.5-million guarantee presently on the table.

--The Houston Astros countered with a second contract proposal to Ryan, which reportedly includes a base salary of $1 million and up to $300,000 in performance incentives.

--The Milwaukee Brewers jumped into the picture and then, within a matter of hours, jumped out again.

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What does it all mean?

That Nolan Ryan, against his original wishes, will be spending Thanksgiving Day still a free agent.

“This has gone on longer than I had hoped,” Ryan told the Houston Chronicle. “Now, I don’t anticipate reaching an agreement until after Thanksgiving.”

Ryan and his agent, Dick Moss, rejected the Angels’ opening bid of $1.5 million, which would have made Ryan the highest-paid Angel player in history. Last week, Moss said, “That’s not the offer that’s going to bring Nolan Ryan to the Angels,” and Monday, Ryan concurred, saying, “I just wasn’t satisfied with it.”

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Tuesday, Angel General Manager Mike Port spoke with Moss again, a discussion Port described as “touching base, keeping in contact. . . . To this point, Dick is still receptive to whatever ideas we might have.”

Among those ideas is believed to be an attendance clause, similar to the one given Reggie Jackson during his 5-year Angel career.

But as it stands, according to both Port and Ryan, the Angels’ offer is the highest to be extended to the free-agent pitcher.

“Dick Moss has told me that ours is the highest standing offer,” Port said. “Has it signed Nolan Ryan and brought him to the California Angels? No. But I think our position is still better than that of a lot of clubs, who may be left in the dust financially.”

For a few hours, the Milwaukee Brewers made the Ryan derby a three-team race. Brewer General Manager Harry Dalton had expressed interest in Ryan earlier this month but, after talking with Moss Tuesday, announced the club had backed off.


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