The Dodgers, already in the strongest position of any division leader in the major leagues, moved to improve their chances of winning the National League West Saturday when they acquired third baseman Bill Madlock from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
For the 34-year-old, four-time league batting champion, the Dodgers gave up three players to be named, probably within the week. A Dodger source indicated that one of the players would be utility outfielder R.J. Reynolds, who was designated for assignment to make room for Madlock on the roster.
As for the other two players, a wire-service report speculated that they would be minor leaguers Sid Bream, who plays first base at Albuquerque, the top Dodger farm club, and Cecil Espy, who has played the outfield and infield at San Antonio. Speculation in Pittsburgh was that first baseman-outfielder Franklin Stubbs, who is now with Albuquerque, might be one of the players.
In announcing the trade, which had to come before midnight Saturday to make Madlock eligible for postseason play, Al Campanis, vice president in charge of player personnel, stressed that the veteran player would add leadership as well as hitting to a team that essentially is young and inexperienced.
Madlock, who underwent elbow and shoulder surgery last August, was slow to regain his best form this season. In 110 games with the Pirates, he hit .251, with 10 homers and 41 runs batted in.
Although he is not regarded as an outstanding defensive third baseman, Madlock is a solid performer. Assisted by the range of rookie shortstop Mariano Duncan, he should prove to be adequate on a club that isn't known for its defensive prowess.
The trade ended the Dodgers' season-long quest for a third baseman. Pedro Guerrero opened the season at third, was unhappy, wasn't hitting and went back to playing the outfield. Since then, Dave Anderson, Bill Russell, Bob Bailor and most recently Enos Cabell have played the position.
Cabell was acquired from Houston a month ago when it appeared that the Dodgers were not going to get Madlock.
"I was in Pittsburgh July 22 to talk to Joe (Joe L. Brown, Pirate general manager) about a deal for Madlock," Campanis said. "I felt their demands for Madlock were too high, and I told the press we were out of the running.
"But Thursday, when I returned from lunch, there was a message that Joe had called. This time, we started talking from our offer. Madlock told a member of our organization that he wanted to play for the Dodgers.
"Before the deal could be completed, we had to talk to Madlock. He had a contract with the Pirates through the next two years. Unless we signed him to another contract, he could have become a free agent next March. We reached agreement on a new two-year contract.
"It isn't that we are dissatisfied with Cabell. He can play third, first and the outfield. We got Madlock because we wanted more stability and leadership. He is also an outstanding hitter."
Madlock began this season with a career batting average of .312. He started his major league career with Texas in 1973, played three years with the Chicago Cubs, was traded to San Francisco in 1977 and was sent to Pittsburgh in 1979. His most recent batting title was in 1983, when he hit .323. He also won in 1975 (.354), 1976 (.339) and 1981 (.341).
For years the Pirate captain and team leader, Madlock became disenchanted with the way the financially distressed organization was getting rid of its high-priced players. The Pirates traded George Hendrick, Kent Tekulve and John Candelaria earlier this season. Finally, Madlock told the club six weeks ago that he would not object to a trade.
Before leaving Pittsburgh, Madlock said: "I always said that a player, before he retires, should have a chance to play with two clubs--the Dodgers and the Yankees. I think it was time for me to move on.
"I don't think there was a lack of belief on my part in the organization. I just think their youth movement didn't include me. They said there was a lack of leadership on my part, but you can't lead people who don't want to be led."
Madlock arrived during the sixth inning of the Dodger game against the Philadelphia Phillies Saturday night and pinch-hit in the eighth inning, getting an infield single.
He will have to shave a beard of 17 years, and he said facetiously: "If I had known the Dodgers didn't allow beards, I would have vetoed the deal." Then he added: "Seriously, everyone should get a chance to play for the best organization in baseball. I'm delighted to be here.
"I think I can play four or five more years. Coming off shoulder surgery, I have not had a good season. Pitchers will tell you it takes a year to recover from it.
"I signed a straight two-year contract. There was some adjustment for the bonus clauses, but basically I gave up some money."