Jose Canseco became baseball’s first $5-million man today when he signed a five-year, $23.5-million contract with the Oakland Athletics.
The announcement of the deal was delayed 45 minutes as the two sides worked out the final details.
Canseco’s salary will increase every year during the contract, which runs from 1991 through 1995. He will earn a base pay of $2.8 million in 1991, $3.6 million in ’92, $4.1 million in ’93, $4.4 million in ’94 and $5.1 million in ’95.
The deal also includes a signing bonus of $3.5 million, which will boost his pay this season to $5.5 million.
The contract makes Canseco the game’s highest-paid player, topping the five-year, $19.6-million deal Don Mattingly signed in April with the New York Yankees.
“This new contract reflects Jose’s ability as a player and the dramatic change in the marketplace since December of last year,” Oakland General Manager Sandy Alderson said.
Canseco, the only player ever to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in the same season, called the contract “a great win for the players.”
“I think this will make it easier for the Mark McGwires and the Matt Williams to negotiate their contracts,” Canseco said.
The agreement was reached after more than a month of negotiations, during which Canseco spent 15 days on the disabled list with a back injury.
Despite missing 16 games this season because of back and wrist problems, Canseco has 20 home runs, 50 RBIs, 12 steals and a .307 batting average.
The deal makes Canseco the fourth Oakland player who will earn more than $3 million a season. Pitchers Dave Stewart and Dennis Eckersley and outfielder Rickey Henderson had already reached that salary plateau.
The deal ends three years of contract squabbling between Canseco and the Athletics.
In February, Canseco said he would never forgive Alderson for threatening to bring up the player’s off-the-field problems in a possible arbitration hearing.
Alderson was referring to Canseco’s brushes with the law in 1988 and 1989, including one that led to a no-contest plea to possessing a loaded gun. Canseco was also cited for several traffic infractions.
The two sides avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year, $2-million contract for the 1990 season just 48 hours before the scheduled hearing. Canseco earned $1.6 million in 1989.
In April, the Cuban-born Canseco said racial discrimination was behind the Athletics’ refusal to offer him a multi-year contract. He later recanted the charge.
Canseco was voted the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1988. He hit 42 homers, stole 40 bases and batted .307 that season.
Last year, he played only 65 games because of a broken bone in his left hand. He batted .269 with 17 homers and 57 RBIs.
Canseco was voted the AL’s Rookie of the Year in 1986 after hitting 33 home runs and 117 RBIs with a .240 batting average.