Ryne Sandberg in 1991 will become the highest-paid second baseman in baseball history through an agreement he reached with the Chicago Cubs today on a three-year contract extension worth a guaranteed $4.6 million.
A source familiar with the details told the Associated Press that Sandberg will receive a $900,000 signing bonus, $1.1 million next year and $2.2 million in 1991. The Cubs have an option for 1992 at $2.1 million. If they do not exercise it, they must pay him $400,000 in buyout money.
In addition, Sandberg can earn $75,000 in bonuses each season. He would get $25,000 each for making the All-Star team, winning a Sporting News Silver Slugger Awards and winning a Gold Glove. He has won six consecutive Gold Gloves.
First at $2-Million Markl
Sandberg is line to become the first $2-million second baseman. The highest salary at the position this season was to be Philadelphia's Juan Samuel, who has since been shifted to center field. Samuel will make $1.45 million this year. Thus Steve Sax of the New York Yankees will be the highest paid second baseman this year, getting $1.267 million, including a prorated share of a $500,000 signing bonus.
"I didn't want this thing to go on through spring training and the season," Sandberg said. "I didn't want it to distract me."
The 29-year-old Sandberg batted .264 last season with 19 home runs and 69 runs batted in, along with 25 stolen bases. He has been a seven-year starter for the Cubs and was the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1984, when he hit .314 with 19 homers and 84 RBI.
He would have been eligible for free agency at the end of the season.
"The Cubs would have been in line if I filed for free agency, but I didn't want it to go that far," Sandberg said.
Don Grenesko, the Cubs executive vice president, agreed with Sandberg.
"I never thought we'd be able to talk later," Grenesko said. "We had to get it done now."