Whitey Herzog maintained a frenetic pace at baseball's winter meetings Tuesday by completing three transactions, and he claimed he isn't done yet.
In addition to signing pitcher Chuck Finley to the highest contract in Angel history, Herzog acquired former Dodger Hubie Brooks from the New York Mets for outfielder Dave Gallagher, and traded right-hander Mike Fetters to the Milwaukee Brewers for reliever Chuck Crim. The Angels also gave up right-hander Glenn Carter, who was 1-6 with double-A Midland, Tex., last season.
Finley, who was a year away from free agency, agreed to a four-year, $18.5-million contract that ranks third-highest among pitchers and fifth overall. The money is unevenly distributed to pay Finley $3.5 million in 1994--18.9% of the contract--and to minimize his salary loss in case of a lockout, a gesture the Angels were less willing to extend to Wally Joyner. Their final offer to Joyner was a $15.75-million contract, with a $3.75-million salary in 1994, putting Joyner at risk to lose 23.8% of his total earnings. The payout was a bitter point of contention with Joyner, who agreed to a one-year deal with the Kansas City Royals Monday.
Finley's agent, Randy Hendricks, said the payout for his client "was no problem. That was relatively inconsequential on both sides. I think we worked on it less than five minutes."
Angel President Richard Brown said that comparing Joyner's deal with Finley's "is like comparing apples with oranges. They're different contracts. You're comparing a first baseman with a pitcher. . . . These negotiations resulted in a contract because this player wanted to stay with the California Angels."
Barry Axelrod, one of Joyner's agents, disagreed. "To say you can't do a proposal because one player is an everyday player and one is a pitcher is absurd," Axelrod said from his Encinitas office, "and to say Wally didn't want to stay is absurd."
Axelrod said Joyner was happy for Finley and had no quarrel with Herzog over his departure. In parting, Joyner implied that Jackie Autry, wife of owner Gene Autry, drove him away.
"Wally has left open the possibility of returning to the Angels, providing Whitey is really running the show," Axelrod said. "It's very clear to us he's not running it now."
Herzog said Brooks, 35, who underwent surgery on a disk in his neck on Sept. 12, will be the Angels' designated hitter because of his consistent production and clutch hitting. Herzog said the Angels' doctors were satisfied by the Met doctors' reports on Brooks' condition.
Angel Manager Buck Rodgers said he would consider using Brooks sparingly in the outfield or at first base, as his condition permits. Brooks, a .272 hitter who has driven in 750 runs in 12 seasons, was delighted to return to California. "It's absolutely great to be back," he said from his Chatsworth home. "I don't exactly know what I'm going to be doing. I should be playing. I'm not looking to do just that one thing (DH)."
Gallagher said from his Orange County home that the trade "was kind of a shocker to me," but his disappointment was eased by his impending reunion with Met Manager Jeff Torborg. Gallagher played for Torborg with the Chicago White Sox.
Herzog worked out details of Finley's contract with impressive speed, consenting to pay Finley a $1.5-million signing bonus and salaries of $4 million in 1992, $5 million in 1993, $3.5 million in 1994 and $4.5 million in 1995. Finley, who was 18-9 in each of the last two seasons and has won 52 games in the last three seasons, can increase his earnings through incentive clauses similar to those in the contract of American League Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens. Finley also can submit a list of 13 teams to which he would not accept a trade.
"This has been a tough, tough winter to get the movement we want, but I think signing Chuck Finley is a big step in the right direction, and we hope to go from there," Herzog said. "Yeah, we could have traded Chuck Finley and got a hell of a lot rolling, and if I didn't get him signed by the end of the week, I was going to trade him. I'm glad I didn't have to.
"I feel pretty good right now. Last week at this time, I was down and I was frustrated we didn't get Joyner or (outfielder Bobby) Bonilla."
Finley, recovering in California from surgery on his left big toe last Friday, said he had no desire to leave the organization.
"I'm very happy playing for the California Angels--I didn't know what it's like to play anywhere else," said Finley, a 1985 Angel draft choice. "It was never in my mind to look anywhere else to play.
"I didn't really strive to start playing ball and say, 'I want to be this high on the (salary) list.' I think people will reward you if you do a good job. The Angels took a chance on me, and I'm going to do everything I can to show they made the right decision."
Finley said he never worried about being traded, although Herzog shopped him to assess his value in case they didn't agree on a new contract. "He more than went out of his way to say, 'I don't want to trade you,' " Finley said. "That's what I would do if I was the GM--look around and see what I could get. It's good business."
Besides keeping Finley happy, Rodgers thought the signing would calm players' unhappiness over Joyner's departure.
"I think this will send a message through the clubhouse that the Angels are ready and willing to negotiate with our own people, as much or more as with other people," Rodgers said.
Angel General Manager Whitey Herzog met with Marvin Demoff, agent for free-agent right-hander Kirk McCaskill Tuesday. McCaskill still plans to visit Baltimore after the meetings to talk with the Orioles. "I thought losing Wally (Joyner) was a tragic day for the Angels," McCaskill said. "I hope it's the end of a continuous trend. From an insider-outsider perspective, it's just frustrating that that has to happen. . . . I played the waiting game the whole time. I've been waiting very patiently for them to sort out their priorities, and I have not been one of their priorities. I'm going to look out for the best interests of me and my family."
Chuck Crim, who was born in Van Nuys and graduated from Thousand Oaks High School, was 3-5 with a 3.47 earned-run average in 67 relief appearances for Milwaukee last season. He earned $860,000 in 1991. Angel Manager Buck Rodgers said Mike Fetters, the Angels' first-round draft pick in 1986, simply was not impressive enough in his starts to win a place in the rotation next season. Fetters was 2-5.
Herzog said he doesn't plan to pursue free-agent outfielder Danny Tartabull because of budget considerations. But don't be surprised if discussions do take place. Dennis Gilbert, the agent for Tartabull and Bobby Bonilla, and Herzog had a short meeting Tuesday to discus Herzog's angry claim that Gilbert had used the Angels simply as a bargaining wedge to improve offers from other teams. There were no negotiations at the meeting. . . . Outfielder Otis Nixon, whom the Angels had offered a three-year contract, is reportedly close to re-signing with Atlanta for two years plus an option year for $2.5 million a year.
Baseball's Top 10 Salaries
The top 10 baseball contracts by average annual values. Figures were obtained by the Associated Press from player and management sources and include all guaranteed income but not income from potential incentive bonuses:
Player Team Years Avg. Salary Bobby Bonilla Mets 1992-96 $5,800,000 Roger Clemens Red Sox 1992-95 $5,380,250 Dwight Gooden Mets 1992-94 $5,150,000 Jose Canseco Athletics 1991-95 $4,700,000 Chuck Finley Angels 1992-95 $4,625,000 Andy Van Slyke Pirates 1992-94 $4,216,667 Nolan Ryan Rangers 1992 $4,200,000 Wally Joyner Royals 1992 $4,200,000 Tony Gwynn Padres 1993-95 $4,083,333 Darryl Strawberry Dodgers 1991-95 $4,050,000
Hubie Brooks' Career Statistics
Year Team AB R H HR RBI Avg. 1980 Mets 81 8 25 1 10 .309 1981 Mets 358 34 110 4 38 .307 1982 Mets 457 40 114 2 40 .249 1983 Mets 586 53 147 5 58 .251 1984 Mets 561 61 159 16 73 .283 1985 Expos 605 67 163 13 100 .269 1986 Expos 306 50 104 14 58 .340 1987 Expos 430 57 113 14 72 .263 1988 Expos 588 61 164 20 90 .279 1989 Expos 542 56 145 14 70 .268 1990 Dodgers 568 74 151 20 91 .266 1991 Mets 357 48 85 16 50 .238 Totals 5439 609 1480 139 750 .272