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Molitor Leaves Brewers, Signs With Blue Jays

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Paul Molitor severed his ties with the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday shortly after they offered him arbitration, accepting a contract from the Toronto Blue Jays worth a guaranteed $13 million for three years and a maximum of $16 million, including a fourth option year.

Molitor, 36, had spent 15 years with the Brewers and acknowledged his reluctance to depart. However, when the cost-conscious Brewers were unwilling to offer him significantly more than the $3.1 million he earned in 1992, he took the Blue Jays’ surprising offer.

His signing ended an expensive but productive day for the World Series champions, who re-signed outfielder Joe Carter for three years. Carter’s contract is worth a guaranteed $19.5 million over three years and a potential $25 million including a fourth year at the club’s option. He batted .264 in 1992 with 34 home runs and 119 runs batted in, the sixth time in seven seasons Carter exceeded 100 RBIs.

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Molitor hit .320 and drove in 89 runs for the Brewers, who challenged the Blue Jays for the AL East title until the final weekend of the season.

“I can’t begin to tell you how difficult it was to leave,” Molitor said. “You play for a team for 15 years and the relationships you establish become a big part of you. . . . There was no question in my mind at the end of the season that I would return to Milwaukee. But as the talks progressed, I became more open to changing teams. I was looking for a club that not only was competitive, but had a real chance to win.”

Molitor had also been wooed by the Angels. Seeking a veteran to stabilize their overwhelmingly young lineup, the Angels had offered him about $6.5 million for two years. “We weren’t even close,” a club official said.

Molitor’s addition means the Blue Jays won’t re-sign Dave Winfield, who recorded the series-winning hit in Toronto’s six-game World Series triumph over Atlanta. Winfield, 41, is “a duplication,” Blue Jay General Manager Pat Gillick said.

Gillick added: “I can’t say too many good things about Paul. He adds to the club we already have, and hopefully we can repeat in ’93.”

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