Hershiser and Dodgers Sign Record $7.9-Million Pact : Three-Year Deal Cancels Arbitration

Times Staff Writer

Orel Hershiser became baseball's highest-paid player this morning when he and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to a three-year contract worth $7.9 million.

The agreement was forged at an airport hotel, where an arbitration hearing had been scheduled later in the morning.

Hershiser, the National League's Cy Young Award winner last year, will get a $1.1-million signing bonus, $2.4 million in salary this season, $1.6 million in 1990 and $2.8 million in 1991.

Including a prorated share of the signing bonus, Hershiser will earn $2,666,667 this season, more than any player ever has made. He also may become the first to earn $3 million a year. In 1991, he will reach $3,066,667, including a prorated share of the signing bonus.

No Incentive Clauses

The contract does not include any incentive clauses, since the Dodgers do not offer them.

One of the sticking points in the negotiations had been a clause Hershiser insisted on, providing that he be paid in event of a lockout by management in 1990, when the Major League Players Assn.'s collective bargaining agreement with the owners expires.

When the Dodgers offered more money than Hershiser could have made in arbitration, however, he conceded and agreed to the lockout language proposed by the owners' Player Relations Committee, which said he will not be paid during any lockout.

Arbitration's Effect Told

Had the case gone to arbitration, Hershiser would have received either $2.425 million for next season, the figure he wanted, or the $2 million submitted by the Dodgers, depending on which arbitrator Stephen Goldberg decided upon. There is no further bargaining once an arbitration hearing has begun.

Gene Orza, associate counsel for the players' association, announced the agreement.

"We have a settlement," he said.

Hershiser, leaving the hearing room, smiled and said, "Yeah, we're happy. It worked out. I had to put a suit and tie on. . . . I'm going to be a Dodger for a while."

Said Orza: "We were on the verge of having a hearing. There's always an effort made before a hearing to reach a settlement. That's what happened today."

Earned $1.4 Million in 1988

Hershiser, 30, earned $1.1 million in 1988, when he won most-valuable-player awards in the National League playoffs and the World Series.

The right-hander had a 23-8 record with a 2.26 earned-run average and finished the year with a record 59 consecutive scoreless innings.

Hershiser had said during negotiations that if a long-term agreement could not be reached, he probably would leave the Dodgers after this season. Had he gone through arbitration, signing just the one-year contract, he would have been eligible for free agency next year.

Hershiser's contract tops that of Boston Red Sox Roger Clemens, who signed for $7.5 million over three years on Wednesday. After the brief news conference today, Hershiser was to join the rest of the Dodgers pitchers and catchers at Vero Beach, Fla.

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