A foregone conclusion became fact Wednesday, when the Angels told the agent for Tony Phillips that they would not offer arbitration to the free agent third baseman, essentially ending Phillips' Angel career after one season.
The team must decide by tonight whether to offer arbitration to their long list of free agents, including Chuck Finley, Jim Abbott and Greg Myers.
The Angels are expected to offer Finley arbitration, while continuing negotiations in an effort to sign the pitcher to a long-term contract. They apparently are wavering on Abbott, however, fueling speculation that they'll let the popular left-hander go for the second time in three years.
Myers, who hit .260 during an injury-plagued 1995 season in which he made $800,000, doesn't expect to return at catcher. "At least, that's the feeling my agent is getting from them," he said.
If the Angels do not offer arbitration to free agents, they will lose negotiating rights to those players until May 1 and will not be eligible for compensation, in the form of draft picks, if the players sign elsewhere.
But the fear of actually going to arbitration with certain free agents, especially Phillips, is weighing heavily on the minds of the budget-conscious Angels.
Though Phillips went into a horrendous slump in August and September, hitting .198 during those months, his overall statistics--.261, 27 homers, 119 runs, 113 walks--probably would work in his favor in arbitration.
The Angels, who signed third basemen Tim Wallach and Jack Howell to minor-league contracts Tuesday, certainly can't afford to match Phillips' 1995 salary of $3.5 million, so they severed ties with him Wednesday.
"He's gone--Bill [Bavasi, Angel general manager] called me today to tell me--but that's OK, no problem," said Tony Attanasio, Phillips' agent. "Tony will be fine. It will be the Angels' loss."
In other news, the Angels signed reserve shortstop Dick Schofield to a minor-league contract Wednesday. Schofield, the former Angel who was signed in early August after starter Gary DiSarcina injured his thumb, hit .250 and didn't commit an error in 12 games.