ROSEMONT,ILL — ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Free-agent left-hander Dave Righetti had been a fixture at Yankee Stadium for the past 10 years, but yesterday he traded his place in the Bronx Zoo for a tour of Bob Lurie's vault.
Lurie's San Francisco Giants handed Righetti a four-year contract worth $10 million, apparently bringing to an end a one-team free-agent shopping spree that left the club three players richer and $33 million poorer.
It was the Giants who helped set off this year's free-agent free-for-all when they handed left-hander Bud Black a four-year, $10 million deal in November. Monday night, they added outfielder Willie McGee for four years at $13 million.
"Dave was always in our thoughts," Giants president Al Rosen said. "We attempted to do something with him four years ago."
Rosen was a member of the New York Yankees front office when they acquired Righetti from the Texas Rangers in a 10-player deal in 1978.
"I don't think he is the same pitcher he was when we first traded for him," Rosen said. "He may have lost something on his fastball, but today I think he's a better pitcher."
Agent Bill Goodstein, who represented Righetti in the highly publicized and protracted negotiations with the Yankees, said his client broke into tears when he made the decision to leave New York.
"When I spoke to Dave, he said he had cried," Goodstein said. "It was such a difficult situation for him. He leaves the Yankees with extraordinary fond memories."
He will join a Giants team that is making an unprecedented attempt to buy its way back to the top of the standings. The club has shored up its starting rotation and bullpen and averted a center-field crisis by acquiring McGee before Brett Butler could be granted new-look free agency.
Someone asked Rosen how good he thought the addition of Righetti made his team.
"Good enough to win, I hope," he said.
Were the Giants now out of the free-agent market? "Yes," he said, "maybe forever."
Since January, the five top-paid players (Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell are the other two) for the Giants have signed contracts worth a combined $63 million.