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Winfield Wings His Way to Toronto for ’92 : Baseball: Former Angel agrees to one-year contract worth $2.3 million with Blue Jays.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dave Winfield, whose contract was bought out by the Angels after he hit a team-leading 28 home runs and drove in 86 runs last season, will play in Toronto next season.

Winfield, 40, agreed Thursday to a one-year contract with the Blue Jays worth $2.3 million. He leads all active players with 406 home runs--23rd on the career list--and his 1,602 RBIs are 17th.

He batted .262 last season but was used almost exclusively as a designated hitter after Buck Rodgers succeeded Doug Rader as manager. Unwilling to pay him $3 million in 1992 for limited duty, the Angels bought out his option for $450,000.

“It’s a good city, a good team,” Winfield said of the Blue Jays. “We have a real good chance of winning. I know the manager and players real well. I’m going to call Devo (former Angel Devon White) because I know he’s pretty happy.”

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Winfield, who said he wished the Angels “nothing but the best,” said Blue Jay Manager Cito Gaston promised him he would play right field as well as designated hitter.

“I’m not going to camp with just my bats,” Winfield said. “It’s going to be fun. It wasn’t all about money. This is a good team . . . and I’ve played well there for years.”

Winfield remains notorious in Toronto for having inadvertently killed a sea gull with a warm-up throw in 1983, while playing for the New York Yankees at Exhibition Stadium. Winfield was charged with cruelty to animals, although the charge was dropped a day later. He has contributed to animal-related charities as a sort of compensation.

“People still talk about it, but in a positive way,” Winfield said.

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Adding Winfield to their payroll means the Blue Jays have spent $13.15 million on free agents this week. They signed pitcher Jack Morris to a two-year, $10.85-million contract on Wednesday.

In other free-agent moves, right-hander Rick Sutcliffe, formerly of the Chicago Cubs, agreed to a one-year, $1.2-million contract with the Baltimore Orioles, and left-hander Frank Viola was said to be near agreement with the Boston Red Sox on a three-year, $13.9-million deal.

Shortstop Dick Schofield accepted arbitration from the Angels, guaranteeing he will return to the club next season. Pitcher Kirk McCaskill rejected arbitration, but he may negotiate with the Angels through Jan. 8.

Schofield is considered signed. He can negotiate a new contract with the Angels or the two sides can exchange arbitration figures by Jan. 17 and an arbitrator will pick one of the figures during a hearing.

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McCaskill’s rejection is procedural, and he probably will return to the Angels.


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