Dennis Martinez gets 3-year deal for $9.2 million Winter meetings notebook

December 03, 1990|By Ken Rosenthal | Ken Rosenthal,Evening Sun Staff

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Former Orioles righthander Dennis Martinez today signed a three-year contract to remain with Montreal. Terms were not announced at first, but Expos general manager David Dombrowski informed reporters that Martinez's salary would be "more than you're making."

A report a few minutes later had Martinez agreeing to $9.2million. Ridiculous? Not really. Martinez, 35, was expected to command even greater riches as one of 16 players eligible to become a new-look free agent.

He waived that right as part of his new contract, and the Expowere greatly relieved. Martinez finished 10-11 last season, but he ranked among the National League leaders in ERA (2.95), opponents' batting average against (.228) and innings pitched (226).

"We felt Dennis was the horse of our staff," Expos manager BucRodgers said. "He was our ace, the guy who put the wins and innings on the board. Now we can start with all of our cards in the deck."

Dombrowski said there was "tremendous interest" in Martinezwho is represented by Baltimore-based attorney Ron Shapiro. Philadelphia reportedly was preparing a bid, but San Francisco might have the inside track; Martinez is fond of Giants manager Roger Craig and first baseman Will Clark.

All this, for a pitcher the Orioles traded for infielder RenGonzales on Dec. 18, 1987. Martinez, the first Nicaraguan-born player in the majors, is 55-41 since joining the Expos. He made the first All-Star appearance of his 15-year career last season.

* IT'S A DEAL!: The Toronto Blue Jays made their second major off-season move last night, acquiring outfielder Devon White and righthander Willie Fraser from California for outfielder Junior Felix and second baseman Luis Sojo. The deal also includes an exchange of minor-league players to be named.

White, 27, was once of the game's rising stars, but he batte.217 last season, his third straight year of decline. Still, he's a two-time Gold Glove winner, and the Blue Jays wanted him so they can move the 34-year-old Mookie Wilson out of centerfield.

"We're basically looking to Devon White for defense," generamanager Pat Gillick said.

Fraser, 26, is the second pitcher added by Toronto since the enof the season (the Jays earlier signed free-agent reliever Ken Dayley).

As for California, Felix, 23, will replace White in centerfield, evethough manager Doug Rader acknowledged, "whether or not he can play major-league caliber centerfield remains to be seen." Sojo, 24, is expected to move in at second, forcing a decision on Johnny Ray.

* BRADLEY TO JAPAN?: Facing minimal interest on thfree-agent market, former Orioles leftfielder Phil Bradley reportedly is preparing to bid sayonara to major-league baseball and spend the next two years in Japan.

According to the Tokyo newspaper Nippon Sports, Bradley iclose to signing a two-year, $3 million contract with the Tokyo Giants. Bradley's wife, Ramona, confirmed talks with Tokyo last night, but his agent, Jim Turner, denied the report.

The move appears to make sense for Bradley, who is coming ofthe worst year of his career -- a year in which he underwent rTC arthroscopic surgery on his left wrist June 22 and was traded from the Orioles to the Chicago White Sox July 30.

Another former Oriole, free-agent designated hitter Larry Sheetstold a Detroit beat writer that he too has yet to receive an offer after batting .261 with 10 homers and 52 RBIs for the Tigers last season. Sheets, however, said he turned down offers from Japan.

* DOMINO EFFECT?: Free-agent third baseman Terry Pendleton reportedly is close to signing a four-year, $10 million contract with Atlanta. The Orioles are monitoring his situation carefully; it could affect them in two ways.

For starters, the Braves were among the clubs believed to binterested in first baseman/outfielder Franklin Stubbs, but that might be changing. The Orioles have made Stubbs a three-year offer, and it now appears the Braves are pursuing Pendleton and another free agent, Sid Bream.

In addition, the teams that fail to sign Pendleton might havinterest in one of the Orioles' third baseman, Craig Worthington or Leo Gomez. The New York Yankees qualify, and San Diego and the Chicago Cubs also are seeking help at third.

The Padres might prove an interesting match -- they solinfielder Eddie Williams to a Japanese team yesterday, and free-agent third baseman Mike Pagliarulo is likely to sign with another club.

One San Diego player in whom the Orioles have interest iinfielder/outfielder Bip Roberts, a switch-hitter who batted .309 with nine homers and 44 RBIs last season. Roberts, 27, also stole 46 bases, and his ability to play several positions makes him especially attractive.

* AROUND THE HORN: Bad news for Cleveland: Ponce of the

Puerto Rican League released outfielder Joey Belle, primarily for loafing on the basepaths. Belle is the player the Indians expect to replace free-agent outfielder Candy Maldonado.

Good news for the Orioles: Minnesota released righthander RoSmith to clear a roster spot for a selection in today's major-league draft. Smith (5-10, 4.81 in 1990) was 4-0 against the Orioles the last two seasons.

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