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Rasmussen Ends Waiting Game, Takes Padres’ Pay Offer

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Padre left-handed starter Dennis Rasmussen, eagerly watching his peers on the free-agent market being lured and satisfied by huge financial returns, patiently awaited his turn.

Left-handed pitchers had become a hot commodity, and it showed by their contracts: Tom Browning signing for $12.48 million over four years, Zane Smith for $10.6 million, Danny Jackson $10.5 million, and Buddy Black for $10 million. Even Matt Young got $6.4 million over three years from the Boston Red Sox.

Then came Rasmussen’s turn, but instead of the phone ringing deliriously, the only solid offer on the table belonged to the Padres.

And Tuesday night, Rasmussen agreed to a one-year contract with the Padres for a base salary of $925,000 with performance incentives.

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It hardly was what Rasmussen envisioned when he filed for free agency and rejected the Padres’ offer of arbitration three weeks ago--an offer that likely would have provided him with at least $1.2 million, according to agents.

But around 8:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the deadline in which he could re-sign with the Padres, or be prohibited from negotiating with them until May 1, Rasmussen sheepishly agreed to accept the Padres’ one-year offer.

“We felt San Diego was the best place for (wife) Sharon, myself and the kids,” Rasmussen said. “That’s what it basically came down to.”

Did the suddenly cool market fool Rasmussen?

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“No comment,” said Rasmussen, who can become a free agent again after the 1991 season.

The Padres never considered budging from their one-year offer, said Joe McIlvaine, Padre general manager, and they were prepared to lose him.

Rasmussen, 11-15 last season with a 4.15 ERA, joins Bruce Hurst, Ed Whitson, Andy Benes and Greg Harris in the starting rotation.

“He’s been through the wars,” McIlvaine said. “He’s not always the most impressive pitcher, but he finds a way to win.”

The Padres also signed Marty Barrett, free-agent second baseman, to a triple-A contract Tuesday, and will pay him the major-league minimum $100,000 if he makes the team. Barrett, 32, is expected to contend for the starting job.

“They wouldn’t make any guarantees about anything,” Barrett said, “but they promised me every opportunity to win a job.”


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