Another big deal: Green goes to L.A.

He'll get $14 million a year

Mondesi to Jays

November 09, 1999|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

DANA POINT, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays pulled off the second blockbuster trade of the young off-season yesterday, with the Dodgers dealing disgruntled All-Star Raul Mondesi and reliever Pedro Borbon Jr. for budding superstar Shawn Green and minor-league infielder Jorge Nunez.

The deal, which came just days after the Texas Rangers dealt two-time American League Most Valuable Player Juan Gonzalez to the Detroit Tigers in a nine-player trade, opened the general managers' meetings at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel with a bang and again put the spotlight on Major League Baseball's escalating economy.

The Dodgers completed the complicated transaction by signing Green, an outfielder who will turn 27 tomorrow, to a six-year contract worth $14 million a year, making him the highest-paid position player in the game and putting him right behind Dodgers ace Kevin Brown on baseball's salary list.

But Green and club officials tried hard to keep the focus off another huge financial commitment by the Fox ownership group.

"I'm extremely excited to get a chance to play at home in Los Angeles," said Green, who grew up in Orange County. "Everybody knows what a class organization this is. I'm just proud to be able to stay at home and play for an organization with this type of tradition."

The Dodgers have been seeking to unload Mondesi, a strong-armed right fielder, since he made it known during a sometimes frustrating 1999 season that he wanted out of the organization. He finished the season with a .259 average, 33 home runs and 99 RBIs, but did not waver in his desire to continue his career elsewhere.

Green also was approaching a crossroads in his career with the Blue Jays. A standout defensive player, he turned in a career performance this year, batting .309 with 42 home runs, 45 doubles, 134 runs and 123 RBIs, but had informed the club that he planned to test free agency after the 2000 season.

Instead, he will forgo that opportunity for the chance to help the Dodgers rebound from a disappointing 1999 season.

"From a baseball perspective, what Shawn brings to our club is unique and special," said Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone. "He is a leader on the field. He has tremendous instincts. He's a baseball player with tremendous tools.

"But most importantly, he is a man of great integrity."

The Dodgers probably will not be able to afford too many more like him, though club officials acknowledge that more needs to be done to upgrade the team. The Fox ownership group has committed a total of $29 million a year to Green and Brown, and also has a large stable of other veterans making big-money contracts.

"It is difficult, because we have some other areas that we'd like to build up," said Malone, conceding that the club's economic resources are not unlimited. "That's what we're working on -- our short-term and long-term plans -- but we felt that if we had an opportunity to get a player of Shawn Green's caliber, we had to take this step."

The Blue Jays also provided a financial incentive to persuade Mondesi, 28, to waive his right to demand a trade after next season, guaranteeing the two option years in his existing contract to lock him up through 2003.

"I have mixed feelings," said new Dodgers CEO Bob Daly. "I think Raul will do a great job for the Toronto Blue Jays. But I think what's important is, we want Dodgers players who want to be here."

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