Hershiser Goes to Indians, Abbott to White Sox, and Stewart to A’s : Baseball: Rockies sign Walker and Swift as players continue to change clubs at a dizzying pace.
Orel Hershiser, Bob Tewksbury and Andre Dawson switched leagues, and Jim Abbott, Dave Stewart and Larry Walker shifted teams Saturday in baseball’s latest big changeover.
Kevin Brown, John Burkett, Bobby Witt and Bill Swift also found new homes, as did Mike Jackson, Terry Mulholland and Tom Browning. A day after there were nearly 50 deals, there were 30 more moves as clubs hurried to reshape rosters by opening day, April 25.
Along with the frenzy to sign free agents, there was one trade: Months after it was first rumored, Boston sent third baseman Scott Cooper and pitcher Cory Bailey to St. Louis for outfielder Mark Whiten and pitcher Rheal Cormier.
The premium has been on pitching, and the supply of top-name talent may soon start dwindling. But hitters Brett Butler, Mickey Tettleton and Benito Santiago are among those players still available.
Hershiser, a Dodger for his entire career, signed with Cleveland after rejecting a two-year deal with the Giants that could have been worth as much as $4.1 million; Abbott went to the Chicago White Sox; Stewart went back to Oakland; Mulholland returned to San Francisco; Tewksbury signed with Texas, and Brown moved to Baltimore. Also, reliever Jackson signed with Cincinnati, Browning with Kansas City.
“There were larger financial offers out there, but you don’t always make decisions based on finances,” said Hershiser, who got a one-year contract for $1.45 million, less than half what he made last season.
“I had a fantastic career in Los Angeles. That’s one of the best organizations in professional sports. But I saw some of the same qualities of Los Angeles in the Cleveland Indians. I wanted to join another organization that has great things going for it.”
Colorado and Florida, the last two expansion teams, were the big spenders.
The Rockies signed Walker to a $22-million, four-year contract and got Swift for a $13.1-million, three-year deal.
Walker, 28, hit .322, with 19 home runs and 86 runs batted in, for Montreal during the strike-shortened 1994 season. He gives the Rockies left-handed power and strong defense in the outfield.
Swift, 33, was 39-19 with a 2.70 earned-run average in the last three years with the Giants.
The Marlins bolstered their young staff by signing Burkett and Witt, then boosted their bench by adding Dawson.
Burkett, 30, won 22 games for the Giants in 1993. He was traded to the Rangers last December but didn’t sign. He got a two-year deal worth $6.9 million from the Marlins.
Witt, 30, led the A’s staff with five complete games and three shutouts last season. He got a one-year deal for $1.8 million.
Dawson, 40, had 16 homers and 48 RBIs for Boston last season despite knee problems. A native of Miami, Dawson has 428 homers and wants to finish his career at home.
Stewart, 38, who won World Series rings with the A’s, Toronto and the Dodgers, returned to the Athletics with a one-year, $1-million contract. He made $3.5 million last year with the Blue Jays.
“I never expected to take as big a cut as I’m having to take, but I realize I’m signing with a smaller-market team that doesn’t have as much money,” Stewart said.
The A’s also signed reliever Rick Honeycutt, who pitched seven years for them before joining the Rangers last season.
The White Sox, trying to fill a void in their rotation left when Jack McDowell was traded to the New York Yankees, signed Abbott to a one-year deal for $2 million, plus a chance to earn $750,000 in bonuses. Abbott, 27, was 9-8 for the Yankees last season.
The White Sox also signed outfielder Mike Devereaux, who batted .203 last season for the Orioles. He was cut from $3.375 million to $800,000.
The Orioles signed pitchers Jesse Orosco, Doug Jones and Brown.
Brown, 30, was 21-11 with the Rangers in 1992 but 7-9 with a 4.82 ERA last year. He got a one-year contract for $4.225 million.
The Rangers signed Tewksbury, 12-10 with a 5.32 ERA for St. Louis last season. Mulholland, who made $3.35 million with the Yankees, got a one-year contract for $1.25 million from the Giants, who also signed pitcher Mark Leiter.
Browning, 35 later this month, joined the Royals for $300,000, down from his $3.5-million salary last season with the Reds. In other moves, the Reds got reliever Mike Jackson, the Red Sox signed catcher Mike Macfarlane, the Yankees signed outfielder Dion James and Detroit, as expected, re-signed shortstop Alan Trammell.
The Cardinals, in addition to making a trade with the Red Sox, re-signed left fielder Bernard Gilkey for $975,000, down from his $1.6 million last season.