NEW YORK -- With an aggressive second step in their pursuit of free agents, the New York Mets have extended contract offers to first baseman Eddie Murray and righthander Rick Sutcliffe, according to people on both sides of the deals.
The negotiations with Murray, which began over the last several weeks with preliminary conversations between general manager Al Harazin and the agent for the veteran first baseman, apparently have gained greater momentum in recent days as Murray's dealings with the Los Angeles Dodgers have deteriorated.
The Dodgers have offered a one-year contract to Murray, 35, who drove in 96 runs for them last season. But they have refused to greatly improve their proposal, a development that has left Murray angry and seriously considering signing with another organization. Murray, according to a person close to the Dodgers as well as published reports in Los Angeles, has told other players for the Dodgers that he probably would not be returning for next season.
The Mets, who have kept abreast of Murray's souring relationship with the Dodgers, confirmed yesterday that they made an official offer to Murray within the last 48 hours. The details of the proposal are unclear, but it can be reasonably assumed that the Mets have put on the table a deal for at least two years and in the neighborhood of $6 million.
Murray, who drove in 279 runs in his three seasons with the Dodgers, made $2.56 million last season in the final year of a five-year contract that he signed with the Baltimore Orioles before being traded.
Harazin's affection for Murray dates to the general manager's years in the front office of the Orioles. That, combined with Harazin's undisguised desire to make what he believes is a major reconstructive step for the Mets, has evidently led to his interest in Murray.
With respect to Sutcliffe, the Mets have relayed a one-year offer to the veteran pitcher, who last year for the Cubs struggled in his return from shoulder surgery. Further, the Mets have told Sutcliffe that any eventual signing would be contingent on his passing a physical conducted by the organization.