The Padres, who still have hopes of acquiring third baseman Craig Worthington of the Baltimore Orioles, on Wednesday received third baseman Scott Coolbaugh from the Texas Rangers in a trade for catcher Mark Parent.
“We’re not calling off the dogs on getting another third baseman,” said Joe McIlvaine, Padre general manager, “but nothing’s really happening on that front right now. We now at least have a candidate for the job. He’s really the only bona fide third baseman we’ve got.”
Coolbaugh, 24, has only one year, 127 days of major-league service, but unless the Padres make a trade for a veteran third baseman, he fills the void as the Padres’ starter. He batted .200 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 67 games at Texas in 1990, hitting .315 against left-handers and only .151 against right-handed pitching. He currently is batting .238 with no homers for Mayagyez of the Puerto Rican League.
The Rangers once hoped Coolbaugh would be their third baseman of the future, but with a disappointing 1990 that included three trips to the minors and with the play of minor league third baseman Dean Palmer, they decided that Coolbaugh was expendable.
“Scott’s a better player than he showed last year,” said Tom Grieve, Ranger general manager, “but he was was really not going to have a chance to play here. We owed it to him to give him a chance somewhere else.”
Coolbaugh’s shot at becoming the Rangers’ everyday third baseman came April 21 when starter Steve Buechele sustained a broken right wrist. But when given the starting job, Coolbaugh batted only .164 with two RBIs in 28 games. He was sent to the minors May 25 for the second of three stints, and in his final two stints with the Rangers, batted .221 with two homers and 11 RBIs.
“Last year was a wasted year,” Coolbaugh said. “I just put a lot of pressure on myself.”
Coolbaugh’s name surfaced in trade rumors two years ago when the Padres were looking for third-base prospects and the Rangers were searching for catchers. The two clubs’ needs never changed, and with the Rangers looking for a catcher who can platoon with Geno Petralli, the trade appears to be a perfect fit.
“There are big trades, and there are trades like this,” McIlvaine said, “but it makes sense for both of us. Mark came to us at the end of last season and wanted to be traded, we asked around, and this is the best we could do.”
If Coolbaugh does not emerge into a starter, the Padres still have a contingency plan. They believe that third baseman Tom Redington, acquired last month from the Atlanta Braves, might be ready for the big leagues in 1992.
“We have high hopes for Tom,” McIlvaine said, “but we can’t count on him for this season.”
Parent sought a trade simply to increase his playing time. He was frustrated sitting behind All-Star catcher Benito Santiago, and with the acquisition of Tom Lampkin at the All-Star break, Parent was not willing to be the third catcher.
“I’m really excited, although I’m surprised it was Texas,” Parent said. “It’s a nice feeling to be wanted, although on the other hand, you can say it’s like San Diego didn’t want me any more.
“Oh well, it was nice to be traded for a kid. I was afraid I was going to be traded for a dozen baseballs.”
Parent, 29, who had been with the Padre organization since being drafted in 1979, batted .222 last season with three homers and 16 RBIs. His departure leaves right fielder Tony Gywnn, drafted in 1981, with the longest service time of any current Padre.
Meanhile, Parent’s best friend, free-agent first baseman Jack Clark, still is having contract discussions with the Boston Red Sox. Lou Gorman, Red Sox general manager, had a 40-minute conversation Wednesday with Tom Reich, Clark’s agent.
“We had good conversation,” Gorman said, “but we’re still hung up on a few things.”
Clark, according to sources, is seeking a three-year contract for about $8.5 million. The Red Sox are offering two years and an option. Clark also is opposed to being a full-time designated hitter, and would rather play first base. The Red Sox, however, still have Carlos Quintana at first, with minor-leaguer Mo Vaughn considered their first baseman of the future.
The Toronto Blue Jays also have shown interest in Clark, but they have not made an offer.