It's probably a safe bet to say that Mike Boddicker's major-league career isn't going to end where it began.
Boddicker greatly diminished that possibility yesterday when the free-agent right-hander, who came to the big leagues with the Baltimore Orioles in 1980, signed a three-year contract with the Kansas City Royals.
The contract reportedly is worth slightly more than $9 million.
Boddicker, 33, was 17-8 with a 3.36 ERA for the Boston Red Sox last season and an important factor in the Red Sox's winning the American League East title. Boddicker said 12 teams, including the Red Sox, had contact with his representative, Baltimore attorney Ron Shapiro, and five made serious offers.
The Orioles expressed interest in returning Boddicker to Baltimore, where he pitched for parts of nine seasons and was a 20-game winner in 1984. But they weren't finalists or apparently even semifinalists.
Shapiro said he had "really no concrete discussions" with Orioles officials about Boddicker. Then he put a finer point on it, saying of those contacts: "We only had the most tentative discussions with the Orioles. I wouldn't even characterize them as discussions."
Boddicker's signing came on a profitable day for free-agent pitchers. Danny Jackson, another of the front-line pitchers in this year's free-agent pool, came to terms yesterday with the Chicago Cubs, and Tom Browning remained with the Cincinnati Reds.
Shapiro said Boddicker's decision was shaped by a mixture of baseball and family concerns. He is 5-1 lifetime at Royals Stadium. And he'll be moving much closer to his family and farm. Both Boddicker and his wife, Lisa, are from Norway, Iowa.
"Mike had a strong geographic preference as well as a very, very good feeling about pitching in Kansas City. He's had great success pitching in that ballpark," Shapiro said. "Geographically, less than three hours from his family in Iowa and his mother, who has been ill over the years. It's an exciting move home for him."
Boddicker is the third free-agent pitcher to sign with Kansas City in the past two years. Last off-season, the Royals signed reliever Mark Davis, the 1989 National League Cy Young Award winner with the San Diego Padres, and former Orioles pitcher Storm Davis, a 19-game winner in 1989 with the Oakland Athletics, to contracts totaling $19 million. Both had disappointing years, combining for nine victories and six saves.
Now Boddicker joins a staff that includes not only them, but also two-time Cy Young Award winner Brent Saberhagen and Mark Gubicza, a 20-game winner in 1988.