Winfield Reaches Settlement, Ready to Join the Angels : Baseball: He gets contract extension for one year, plus two option years. Package is worth as much as $9.1 million.
Ending an often stormy residence in the New York Yankees’ “Bronx Zoo,” Dave Winfield on Wednesday agreed to terms with the Angels on a one-year extension to his current contract plus two option years, at the Angels’ option.
The agreement, which could be worth as much as $9.1 million to the 38-year-old outfielder, was reached five days after Winfield vetoed the Yankees’ attempt to trade him to the Angels in exchange for Mike Witt.
It was also nearly 12 hours after Winfield and representatives of the Yankees and Angels began negotiating the terms that would mollify Winfield and persuade him to drop his challenge to the Yankees’ right to trade him.
Winfield’s contract extension will take effect in the 1991 season, after the expiration of the 10-year, $20-million contract he signed with the Yankees in December, 1980. The first year of the extension is worth $2.55 million and is the only year that is guaranteed.
Winfield is scheduled to join the Angels today in Milwaukee for the finale of their three-game series against the Brewers. Angel General Manager Mike Port had given Winfield until Friday to report, and was pleased at Winfield’s eagerness to join his new club. Winfield will wear No. 32. His old number, 31, is worn by pitcher Chuck Finley. Angel Manager Doug Rader would not say whether Winfield will be in the starting lineup today.
“To our delight, David had already made a plane reservation to Milwaukee,” Port said by phone from Phoenix, where he was tending to personal business Wednesday. “That’s very much to his credit. That’s the type of player we’re getting.”
Winfield based his refusal of the trade on his rights as a 10-and-five player, but apparently was not acting only on principle. Port said the Angels were obliged to give Winfield a new contract before Winfield would agree to the deal and drop a grievance that was scheduled to go to arbitration Wednesday.
And even as Winfield and the Angels came to terms, the Yankees apparently tried to obstruct the deal. Port would not reveal specific details, but said he “would not deny” that George Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ principal owner, almost to the last minute attempted to prevent Winfield’s exchange. The Yankees did not pay Winfield $100,000 in bonuses, as they were required to do, until Tuesday.
“I can say more on that in a day or two,” Port said. “Perhaps we’ll be in a better position then. For the moment, I must be silent.”
Winfield was vocal in expressing his relief that the deal was done. A 12-time All-Star and career .287 hitter, he had been reduced to platoon status by Yankee Manager Bucky Dent, who actively advocated Winfield’s departure. Winfield hit .213 with six runs batted in in 20 games this season.
“It’s been an ordeal to a large degree,” Winfield said. “Maybe things didn’t work out (in New York), but I know they’re going to work out in California.”
Port acknowledged that he, too, felt emotionally drained by the complications of working out the agreement.
“It’s been a trying few days,” Port said. “Not at all because of Dave Winfield or (Winfield’s agent) Jeff Klein, because the negotiations with Dave and Jeff were reasoned, logical and progressive, although they were detailed. Other things were involved that made it trying. In spite of some obstacles that had nothing to do with Dave or Jeff Klein, we are able to fulfill what he indicated to our fans, that Dave Winfield is going to come to Southern California. . . .
“Dave Winfield is right there with Reggie Jackson in terms of leadership capabilities and in the performance sense, his ability to carry a club on his back for several days if need be. When he gets hot, he can take up a lot of slack.”
Winfield’s contract extension has a no-trade clause. However, it does not contain any stipulations regarding contributions by the Angels to the Winfield Foundation, a charitable enterprise that was one of many sources of friction between Winfield and Steinbrenner over the years.
Winfield and Steinbrenner went to court after Steinbrenner tried to prove that Winfield was using foundation funds for personal enjoyment rather than for the benefit of others, and the dispute was settled out of court.
Now that the acquisition of Winfield is settled, Port said he could “set sail” on another deal that would reduce the Angels’ outfield surplus. The Angels must also make a roster move before Winfield can play because they are at the 25-player limit.