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Padres, Santiago Take First Step Toward Deal

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Padres, considering proposals that would provide catcher Benito Santiago a multi-year contract, engaged in their first negotiating session Friday afternoon with Scott Boras, Santiago’s agent.

Joe McIlvaine, Padre general manager, and Boras spent most of the afternoon discussing proposals involving Santiago and four other of Boras’ clients: infielder/outfielder Bip Roberts, and pitchers Andy Benes, Derek Lilliquist and Rafael Valdez. Yet, the primary focus was on Santiago, who is seeking a contract similar to San Francisco Giant first baseman Will Clark’s four-year, $15 million deal.

“We discussed a lot of issues,” McIlvaine said. “Really, we opened it up to the universe. It was a fact-finding meeting.”

Santiago, who is seeking $2.5 million in arbitration, insists that if the Padres do not offer him a multi-year contract, he will file for free agency at the end of the 1992 season. Already, first baseman Fred McGriff and outfielder Tony Gwynn are eligible for free agency in 1992.

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So will the Padres offer Santiago the multi-year contract is seeking?

“I just don’t know,” McIlvaine said. “I certainly don’t think anything will be settled very quickly.

“All I can say is that we are open to all facets, one-year and multi-year, and we’ll explore all possibilities.”

In other news, McIlvaine said it was highly unlikely that the Padres will pursue third baseman Jack Howell in a trade from the Angels. The Padres instead are hoping that Marty Barrett wins the second-base job, allowing Bip Roberts to be the everyday third baseman.

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Third baseman Mike Pagliarulo, who said Friday that he still wishes he could have remained with the Padres, signed a one-year, $600,000 contract with the Minnesota Twins, filling the opening left by the departure of Gary Gaetti to the Angels.

Pagliarulo, 30, who spent the past 1 1/2 seasons with the Padres, became a free agent at the end of the season and was informed that the Padres were not interested in his return.

“It’s too bad they broke up that team,” said Pagliarulo, who batted .254 in 128 games with seven home runs and 38 RBIs. “I think we had something good going. Now, it’s like we’re all gone.

“I think we would have had a great season there. Now, we’ll never know.”

Pagliarulo, whose contract includes incentives that could boost his salary to more than $700,000, rejected overtures from the Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox to await Gaetti’s decision. And only hours after Gaetti decided to accept the Angels’ four-year, $11.4 million offer, the Twins called Pagliarulo, and he immediately agreed to the contract.

“I just wanted to go to a place where I could play a lot,” Pagliarulo said, “and except for being an everyday player in San Diego, I figured this is the next-best thing.”


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