Yankees sign Boggs, covering Hayes' loss Steinbrenner pushes deal for 5-time bat champ, 34

December 16, 1992|By Jack Curry | Jack Curry,New York Times News Service

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees finally found another free agent willing to accept some of their money. They signed Wade Boggs to a three-year, $11 million contract yesterday and hoped the five-time American League batting champion would make their third-base troubles disappear.

The signing is curious because Boggs, 34, is coming off the worst season of his 11-year career, all with Boston, and there is speculation that an ailing back will prevent him from regaining his form.

In failing to hit .300 for the first time in his career, Boggs batted .259 last season, which dropped his career average from .345 to .338. He missed several games with muscle spasms in his lower back. Now he will miss cozy Fenway Park, where he hit .369 for the Red Sox.

Manager Buck Showalter and general manager Gene Michael were initially against signing Boggs. But George Steinbrenner and the managing partner, Joseph Molloy, were enamored of him because they think he is a marquee name and his signing will indicate how serious the Yankees are about challenging for the American League East title.

"If there were people who didn't think the signing was right, they will come around," Steinbrenner said. "Everyone pulls together once it is done. You're a company man. If you're not, you're in trouble."

Once Charlie Hayes was taken by the Colorado Rockies in last month's expansion draft, the Yankees' Tampa-based executives decided that signing Boggs would make enough of a splash to help offset some of the negative publicity surrounding the loss of their regular third baseman.

The Yankees would have rather settled on a two-year deal, but the Dodgers were offering Boggs a two-year, $6 million contract.

"We worked hard to put Wade Boggs in a Yankees uniform," said Molloy. "We feel his career performance speaks for itself."

Amazingly, Steinbrenner was the only Yankees official available to comment on the signing of a player who should someday reach the Hall of Fame.

The Yankees merely offered a press release with Molloy's statement and comments from Boggs and Don Mattingly. Molloy, Showalter and Michael failed to return telephone messages yesterday.

Boggs, who was on a hunting trip and 16 miles from a telephone, said in the statement: "I'm very enthusiastic about being a Yankee and playing for an organization so rich in tradition. The idea of being able to play in Yankee Stadium and remain in the American League East all factored into my decision."

Boggs has a .276 career average at Yankee Stadium.

The contract, which includes a no-trade provision, calls for Boggs to receive a $3 million signing bonus and salaries of $1.9 million the first year, $2.1 million the second year and $4 million the third year.

Alan Nero, agent for the nine-time All-Star, discounted speculation about Boggs' back and said a magnetic resonance imaging and a CAT scan had revealed that the muscle spasms were caused by stress.

"I just got a hunch that maybe he is the best buy we've had in a long time," Steinbrenner said. "I think he'll hit .300 next year. I'm not prepared to believe that Wade Boggs isn't still Wade Boggs."

Wade Boggs' stats

Career statistics for Wade Boggs, who signed a three-year contract with the New York Yankees yesterday:

Year-x .. AB .. .. H .. .. HR .. RBI .. .. AVG

1982 . .. 338 . .. 118 ... 5 ... 44 ... .. .349

1983 . .. 582 . .. 210 ... 5 ... 74 ... .. .361

1984 . .. 625 . .. 203 ... 6 ... 55 ... .. .325

1985 . .. 653 . .. 240 ... 8 ... 78 ... .. .368

1986 . .. 580 . .. 207 ... 8 ... 71 ... .. .357

1987 . .. 551 . .. 200 .. 24 ... 89 ... .. .363

1988 . .. 584 . .. 214 ... 5 ... 58 ... .. .366

1989 . .. 621 . .. 205 ... 3 ... 54 ... .. .330

1990 . .. 619 . .. 187 ... 6 ... 63 ... .. .302

1991 . .. 546 . .. 181 ... 8 ... 51 ... .. .332

1992 . .. 514 . .. 133 ... 7 ... 50 ... .. .259

Tot. . . 6213 . . 2098 .. 85 .. 687 ... .. .338

x-all years with Boston

AL East additions

Players added via trade or by free-agent signings by American League East teams during the winter meetings and since:

Orioles: P Jason Satre, P Reggie Leslie, 2B Harold Reynolds, P Jamie Moyer, 3B Scott Coolbaugh.

Boston Red Sox: IF Scott Fletcher, OF Ivan Calderon, P Scott Bankhead, OF Andre Dawson, P Jose Melendez, C Bob Melvin.

Cleveland Indians: P Bob Ojeda, C Junior Ortiz, P Zak Shinnal, P Mike Bielecki.

Detroit Tigers: P Mike Moore, P Tom Bolton.

New York Yankees: SS Spike Owen, P Jim Abbott, P Jimmy Key, 3B Wade Boggs.

Milwaukee Brewers: None.

Toronto Blue Jays: IF Luis Sojo, IF Paul Molitor, P Dave Stewart, P Danny Cox.

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