Associated Press

The Boston Red Sox are close to signing former National League MVP Kevin Mitchell to a minor league contract that will pay him $250,000 if he makes the team. He could earn $1.5 million more in performance bonuses.

Mitchell would be the fourth former MVP on the Red Sox, joining Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco and last year's winner, Mo Vaughn.

Mitchell has 220 homers in 10 major league seasons, including 47 in his MVP year of 1989. He played last season in Japan, batting .300 with eight homers and 28 RBIs in 130 at-bats.

But Mitchell feuded with the management of the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks, who doubted the severity of his knee injury.


Philadelphia outfielder Tony Longmire will sit out the 1996 season, team physician Phillip Marone said. Longmire had surgery on his left wrist Wednesday, and also had a bone shortened in his arm, the result of an injury suffered years ago. . . . Cleveland's Julio Franco is still sidelined by a headache, as a result of getting kicked in the head at second base against Kansas City on Monday. . . . Brien Taylor, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1991 amateur draft, was optioned by the New York Yankees to double-A Norwich in the Eastern League. . . . Texas announced that outfielder Rusty Greer, who hit .271 last season, has agreed to terms on a three-year contract extension. The signing means that all 39 players on the Rangers' roster are under contract for the 1996 season.

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