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Baseball Takes It Out in Trade : Mets Put In Overtime to Acquire Saberhagen : Baseball: Gooden’s health is the main concern for New York. The Royals fill holes in their lineup by getting McReynolds and Jefferies.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The New York Mets, concerned about Dwight Gooden’s recovery from shoulder surgery and the probable defection of free agent Frank Viola, acquired two-time Cy Young Award winner Bret Saberhagen in a five-player trade with the Kansas City Royals Wednesday night.

Announced at 11:15 p.m. EST, long after most general managers had checked out of the winter baseball meetings, the trade sent Saberhagen and versatile infielder Bill Pecota to New York for outfielder Kevin McReynolds, infielder-outfielder Gregg Jefferies and second baseman Keith Miller.

The Royals followed that blockbuster by dumping $2 million in 1992 salary, dispatching pitcher Storm Davis to the Baltimore Orioles for veteran catcher Bob Melvin.

Referring to Gooden’s rotator cuff surgery in September and the addition of Saberhagen, Met General Manager Al Harazin said: “Hopefully, Dwight will be back, but now we have two No. 1s, not just one. I don’t think too many people will like to see the Mets come to town.”

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Said new Met Manager Jeff Torborg, reflecting the concern over Gooden: “We came here to get somebody’s No. 1. We had to give up three quality players to do it, but it’s not too often you can do it at any price.”

With Viola’s return doubtful, the possible Met rotation includes Gooden, Saberhagen, David Cone, Sid Fernandez and one of two youngsters, Pete Schourek or Anthony Young.

“It’s one of the best I’ve ever been on,” Saberhagen said in a conference call. “The big thing is the powerful lineup behind it. I’m kind of in shock right now, but I’m looking forward to joining a quality team and quality front office.

“I mean, the Mets have been making things happen.”

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Saberhagen, 13-8 with a 3.07 earned-run average last year and 110-78 for his career, referred to the previous acquisitions of Bobby Bonilla and Eddie Murray.

If the season opened today, Torborg said, he would be inclined to use Bonilla in left, Vince Coleman in center and Howard Johnson in right.

Murray would be at first; Pecota, who hit .286 in 125 games last year, at second; Kevin Elster at short, and either Chris Donnels, who was up for 37 games last year, or Dave Magadan at third.

Magadan, on the trading block since the signing of Murray, is now off it, Torborg said, and will be tried at his original infield position.

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“Defensively,” Torborg said, “the Mets will be a lot stronger. Hopefully, we won’t have to do the juggling they’ve done in the past.”

The Royals have also made aggressive strides and improvements.

“I’ve been given a chance to win in my first full year as a major league manager,” Hal McRae said. “I’ve been given a chance to go from the second division to the first, and I’m confident we’ll do it.”

Said General Manager Herk Robinson, when asked if Kansas City fans would understand the loss of Saberhagen: “I think the people of Kansas City care more about winning than anything else.

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“We finished sixth two years in a row. We had to take some risks. We had to add some bats. Saberhagen could win four more Cy Youngs, but we’re not getting the job done if we finish sixth along with it.”

The Royals traded a pitcher who works 35 times a year for three full-time position players. In a swiftly revamped lineup, Wally Joyner will be at first, Miller at second, second-year player David Howard at short, Jefferies at either third or in left field, Brian McRae in center and McReynolds in either left or right.

“The one thing we will not do,” McRae said, “is move Jefferies from one position to another. He will either play left field or third base, but not both.”

If he plays third, McReynolds will play right, with Kirk Gibson in left. If he plays left, Kevin Seitzer will go back to third, with McReynolds in right, Gibson and newly acquired Chris Gwynn on the bench and George Brett serving as the designated hitter.

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Free-agent outfielders Danny Tartabull and Jim Eisenreich are out of the Kansas City picture now, Robinson said.

There is no clear-cut replacement for Saberhagen as the ace, but the Royals have starting depth with Kevin Appier, Mark Gubicza, Mike Boddicker, Tom Gordon, Luis Aquino and Mark Davis.

“I thought I was a fixture and would end my career in Kansas City,” Saberhagen said, “but it’s a business. I have a lot of ties to K.C. and may have a hard time adjusting to New York and the National League for a while, but you move on. My life and career are in a new phase.”

Met-Royal Trade

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Career statistics for the players involved in Wednesday’s trade in which the New York Mets sent outfielder Kevin McReynolds and infielders Keith Miller and Gregg Jefferies to the Kansas City Royals for pitcher Bret Saberhagen and infielder Bill Pecota. KEVIN McREYNOLDS

YR TEAM AB R H HR RBI AVG. 1983 SD 140 15 31 4 14 .221 1984 SD 525 68 146 20 75 .278 1985 SD 564 61 132 15 75 .234 1986 SD 560 89 161 26 96 .288 1987 NYM 590 86 163 29 95 .276 1988 NYM 552 82 159 27 99 .288 1989 NYM 545 74 148 22 85 .272 1990 NYM 521 75 140 24 82 .269 1991 NYM 522 65 135 16 74 .259 Total 4519 615 1215 183 695 .269

GREGG JEFFERIES

YR TEAM AB R H HR RBI AVG. 1987 NYM 6 0 3 0 2 .500 1988 NYM 109 19 35 6 17 .321 1989 NYM 508 72 131 12 56 .258 1990 NYM 604 96 171 15 68 .283 1991 NYM 486 59 132 9 62 .272 Total 1713 246 472 42 205 .276

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KEITH MILLER

YR TEAM AB R H HR RBI AVG. 1987 NYM 51 14 19 0 1 .373 1988 NYM 70 9 15 1 5 .214 1989 NYM 143 15 33 1 7 .231 1990 NYM 233 42 60 1 12 .258 1991 NYM 275 41 77 4 23 .280 Total 772 121 204 7 48 .264

BRET SABERHAGEN

YR TEAM IP W-L BB SO ERA 1984 KC 158 10-11 36 73 3.48 1985 KC 235 20-6 38 158 2.87 1986 KC 156 7-12 29 112 4.15 1987 KC 257 18-10 53 163 3.36 1988 KC 261 14-16 59 171 3.80 1989 KC 262 23-6 43 193 2.16 1990 KC 135 5-9 28 87 3.27 1991 KC 196 13-8 45 136 3.07 Total 1660 110-78 331 1093 3.22

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BILL PECOTA

YR TEAM AB R H HR RBI AVG. 1986 KC 29 3 6 0 2 .207 1987 KC 156 22 43 3 14 .276 1988 KC 178 25 37 1 15 .208 1989 KC 83 21 17 3 5 .205 1990 KC 240 43 58 5 20 .242 1991 KC 398 53 114 6 45 .286 Total 1084 167 275 18 101 .254


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