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Herzog Hopes Hayes Trade Just the Start

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Angels’ trade for Von Hayes Sunday was the first move of the winter meetings but by no means the last Senior Vice President Whitey Herzog hopes to pull off this week.

Still, he’ll have to go a long way to match his performance in 1980, when he swept through the meetings and traded 14 Cardinal players in various deals.

Herzog reiterated his hope of signing free-agent center fielder Otis Nixon, whom he envisions hitting second in the lineup. Nixon, suspended 60 days for drug use by Commissioner Fay Vincent, will not be eligible to play in the first 18 games next season but can sign a minor league contract. Herzog said Nixon would be subject to random drug testing and would have to sign a contract that would depend on his passing those tests.

Angel Manager Buck Rodgers, who managed Nixon in Montreal, was enthusiastic about the prospect of being reunited with the speedy outfielder.

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“Otis had a backslide, but I think Otis is one of the most exciting players in the league,” Rodgers said. Nixon hit .297 and stole 72 bases in 124 games for the Atlanta Braves last season.

“I like his defense and his speed, and his offense has improved,” Rodgers said.

Trading Chuck Finley, a path Herzog said he would reluctantly follow should owners Gene and Jackie Autry decide not to sign the pitcher to a long-term deal, could solve the Angels’ offensive problems.

Herzog said he budgeted Finley for about $3.8 million should the left-hander go to arbitration, and said the proposal outlined by agents Randy and Alan Hendricks “is really not asking for anything out of line.” However, the Autrys haven’t authorized Herzog to spend that money, taking him ever closer to making a deal that would bring one of the two outfielders he feels he needs.

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“If we sign Chuck Finley, we’ve got to go out and get a free-agent hitter,” Herzog said. “If you trade Chuck Finley, you get a whole lineup.”

Herzog is also known to be seeking a shortstop as a hedge against Dick Schofield’s departure via free agency. He has talked to the Brewers about Dale Sveum, but should he become certain Schofield won’t return, Herzog may make a bigger deal to acquire Bill Spiers, a front-line player.

Herzog denied persistent rumors of a deal involving second baseman Steve Sax, saying he has never talked to the Yankees about him and does not plan to initiate discussions.


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