Herzog Speaks Loud, Clear in Deal : Angels: He trades prospects Kyle Abbott, Amaro to Phillies for Hayes, then decries Bonilla’s agent.
In acquiring Von Hayes from the Phillies Sunday, Whitey Herzog opened the winter meetings with a salvo of unmistakable messages.
Trading pitching prospect Kyle Abbott and outfielder Ruben Amaro in the first transaction here signaled the Angels’ senior vice president’s eagerness to deal. That extends to trading Chuck Finley if the Angels can’t sign the left-hander to a long-term contract.
Herzog said he is $3 million apart on an agreement with Finley’s agents, Randy and Alan Hendricks, for an amount Herzog said owners Gene and Jackie Autry “at the present time (are) not prepared” to spend.
“I’m shopping him right now,” Herzog said. “I don’t want to trade Chuck Finley . . . but I’ve sure as hell got to find out what I can get for Chuck Finley.”
Herzog also delivered an angry message to Dennis Gilbert, who represented Bobby Bonilla in talks that led to Bonilla’s spurning an Angel bid to sign a five-year, $29-million contract with the Mets. Declaring Gilbert “took our offer, which was the highest, and used it to get more money from everybody else,” Herzog said he would never again bargain with Gilbert.
That is significant, because Gilbert also represents free agent outfielder Danny Tartabull, in whom the Angels have expressed interest.
Herzog’s first trade since joining the Angels’ front office was another way to tell Gilbert the Angels don’t need Tartabull--and a warning to Wally Joyner, whose contract talks have stalled over disbursement of the $15.75 million he would receive in a four-year deal.
However, it appeared Sunday night that Joyner might reach agreement with the Kansas City Royals. Talks between them continued late Sunday; a source close to the negotiations said an agreement might be reached today.
Hayes, 33, can play right field, left field or first base, as can Tartabull. Lee Stevens, a left-handed power hitter who has been with the Angels for parts of the last two seasons, can play right field or first base.
“We don’t need (Tartabull and Joyner) quite as much,” Herzog said.
However, Herzog said he hasn’t ruled out signing Tartabull, who batted .316 for Kansas City last season with 31 home runs and 100 runs batted in and has said he wants to sign with a California team.
Herzog dismissed Gilbert with a flurry of invectives Sunday morning when Gilbert approached him in the coffee shop of the hotel where the meetings are being held, and Herzog later said he would be interested in Tartabull “only if he had another agent.”
He said of Gilbert, whom he has known since Herzog was the New York Mets’ director of player development and Gilbert was a Class A center fielder at Visalia, Calif., in the 1960s: “Our relationship right now is that S.O.B. lied. . . . I personally don’t feel Bonilla wanted to come West. He wanted to play in Philadelphia or the Eastern part of the U.S. . . .
“I will never, ever lay an offer on the table to a Dennis Gilbert player again. It won’t hurt the team, because if I’m interested in somebody and Dennis walks up and says, ‘Do you want Tartabull?’ I can say, ‘How much will he cost?’ I’ll never bargain with him again.”
Herzog’s anger was sparked by Gilbert’s assertion that Bonilla wanted to play for the Angels, and Gilbert’s contradictory action of calling the Phillies last Monday afternoon and telling them Bonilla would play in Philadelphia for a five-year, $28-million contract. Instead of calling Herzog after the Phillies said no, Gilbert called the Mets. “Why be nice to the little. . . ? He screwed us,” Herzog said.
Gilbert maintained Bonilla’s choice of the Phillies was “a late change of heart” and said he hoped to talk with Herzog soon. “Someone’s giving him information that’s not accurate, and he feels betrayed,” Gilbert said. “I was shocked because his facts are wrong, and we’ve been friends for a long time.”
Herzog spoke briefly Sunday with Michael Watkins and Barry Axelrod, who represent Joyner, but they remain stalemated. They have agreed on paying Joyner $4 million in 1992 and $5 million in 1993, but Joyner’s agents want a bonus of $1 million by Jan. 15, 1994, and a relatively lower salary in 1994, anticipating a lockout that would erode Joyner’s earnings that year. Herzog said Jackie Autry, wife of owner Gene Autry, authorized him to pay Joyner $9.5 million by Jan. 15, 1994, but she won’t accept a markedly lower salary in 1994. Complicating matters is the Autrys’ perceived antipathy toward Joyner.
“There is a situation here that is an unpleasant situation of a ballplayer not being liked and not liking the people he works for,” Herzog said. “Every time something happens, Wally Joyner’s feelings are hurt. . . . (Disliking a player) is an owner’s right, and I work for the Autrys. If they don’t want to sign Wally Joyner, that’s their business. And I think if Wally Joyner continues to say he’s mistreated by the Angels, why would he want to work here?
“We had good negotiations for two months. I wanted to sign Wally Joyner, and I really felt like the numbers of Bonilla, Tartabull and Wally Joyner over the last six years are pretty close together. It seems to me we quibbled over something that shouldn’t have been quibbled over. We should have been able to close this out a week ago Tuesday.
“I think I’ll decide in the next couple of days. I’m not blaming anybody, but I’ve been in a hell of a pickle the last two weeks.”
Joyner, who arrived in Miami Beach Saturday, said he couldn’t predict how his situation will be resolved. “I have no animosity or hard feelings toward them. I can’t answer for them towards me,” he said of the Autrys.
Axelrod said weighting a contract to minimize salary loss in a lockout year is a common practice and has been done by the Angels. He said he is discussing Joyner with two other clubs in addition to the Royals. Asked if he might still reach a compromise with the Angels, Watkins said Sunday afternoon: “That’s why we’re here.”
Herzog is here to fortify a lineup that ranked among the American League’s least productive last season, a mission Manager Buck Rodgers said was furthered by the addition of Hayes. Rodgers attributed Hayes’ .225 batting average and homerless 1991 season to the broken wrist that idled him for three months and said Hayes is still capable of being productive. Hayes, who asked the Phillies to trade him, will earn $2.2 million next season.
“We think he’s one of the fine left-handed hitters in the National League, and he had an off-year last year,” Rodgers said. “He can be a third or fourth hitter for us and play right field. He played center field two years ago. We gain defensively, and we think we gained power.”
Kyle Abbott, a Mission Viejo High graduate, “would have struggled to make our club next season,” Rodgers said, and Amaro would have ranked no higher than fifth or sixth among the Angels’ outfielders.
Herzog’s dealing surely isn’t done. Besides possibly trading Finley, for whom, he said, “you get a whole lineup,” Herzog is talking with free agent center fielder Otis Nixon and has spoken to the Brewers, with right-hander Chris Bosio and shortstop Dale Sveum said to be his targets. Herzog also said he would speak to the Pirates about Barry Bonds “if they want to talk.”
Herzog also said the Angels have offered free-agent pitcher Kirk McCaskill a two-year contract with a one-year option and have begun negotiations with left-hander Jim Abbott on a long-term contract.
Dan Grigsby, who represents free agent shortstop Dick Schofield, said he will resume talks with Senior Vice President Dan O’Brien on Friday after being unable to reach agreement on a new deal for Schofield. Grigsby said he had spoken with the Royals and Brewers about Schofield.
The Dodgers have expressed some interest in reacquiring Steve Sax from the New York Yankees, but last week Sax added the Dodgers to a list of teams to which he could not be traded. . . . Fred Claire acknowledged that the team would consider using Chris Gwynn in a platoon situation at first base with Eric Karros if a veteran first baseman cannot be found. . . . Jim Turner, the agent for Juan Samuel, said his client would explore every possible option before accepting the Dodgers’ arbitration offer and returning to the team. If Samuel was unable to find a suitable guaranteed contract elsewhere, he probably will return to the Dodgers under the condition that they trade him before spring training. . . . The Dodgers could lose two top unprotected prospects in today’s Rule 5 draft--second baseman Jose Munoz and outfielder Jerry Brooks. The Dodgers are not expected to draft any players, because there is no room on their 40-man roster.
Times staff writer Bill Plaschke contributed to this story.
The year-by-year record of Von Hayes, acquired in trade Sunday by the Angels:
Year Club AB HR RBI Avg 1981 Indians 109 1 17 .257 1982 Indians 527 14 82 .250 1983 Phillies 351 6 32 .265 1984 Phillies 561 16 67 .292 1985 Phillies 570 13 70 .263 1986 Phillies 610 19 98 .305 1987 Phillies 556 21 84 .277 1988 Phillies 367 6 45 .272 1989 Phillies 540 26 78 .259 1990 Phillies 467 17 73 .261 1991 Phillies 284 0 21 .225 Totals 4942 139 667 .270
* NOT A JOYNER: Whitey Herzog may be in the middle of a family squabble. C3