SAN DIEGO — Infielder Kurt Bevacqua, informed that the Padres would wait and see whether they want him back next season, filed for free agency Monday.
Jack McKeon, the Padres' general manager, commended his decision.
"Heck, he's got that option (free agency), so he should take advantage of it," McKeon said Monday. ". . . I told his agent that if we do anything, we won't be interested in doing anything until later. We wouldn't necessarily close the door on him, but he now has an option to get all the other clubs interested in him."
Outfielders Miguel Dilone and Al Bumbry also are eligible for free agency, but neither filed Monday, the first day to do so. The last day to file is Nov. 11.
"I'm not saying we won't sign them," McKeon said of Dilone and Bumbry, utility players last season. "But at this particular time, we aren't interested. And I don't think anyone else is."
What particularly interests McKeon is a leadoff hitter with speed. And, although the final free-agent list won't be issued until after the Nov. 11 deadline, he said he doesn't anticipate finding any fast guys out there. Detroit's Kirk Gibson was the only potential free agent that McKeon mentioned, but Gibson is not a leadoff hitter.
"And I've got to believe he'll sign with Detroit," McKeon said of Gibson.
So McKeon must make trades to get his speed, and therein is the holdup on Bevacqua.
"What if we make some deals and don't need him?" McKeon said of Bevacqua.
Already, the Padres have spoken with Cincinnati about outfielder Gary Redus, an accomplished baserunner. But it has been learned that Detroit, Montreal, Houston and Philadelphia also have contacted the Reds about Redus.
"We knew Gary had the potential to be an exciting player, but after hearing all the interest there is in him, I'm wondering if we'd be doing the right thing by trading him," Bill Bergesch, the Reds' general manager told the Philadelphia Inquirer recently. "All I know is that with this much interest, I'm not going to jump into any deal unless we feel we can get exactly what we want."
Reports are that the Padres are willing to part with left-handed pitcher Mark Thurmond, and, the Reds have said they want pitching. But McKeon won't discuss names.
Meanwhile, Bevacqua, 37, was unavailable for comment Monday night, but he had said in the final days of the 1985 season: "I'll be surprised if I'm not here next year, but then again, I don't know what people are thinking. I've been surprised a lot in this business."
Before the 1985 season, Bevacqua had opened contract discussions with McKeon, but opted to wait until after the year to finish those discussions.
"It was no sense dragging it out through the season," Bevacqua had said. "It's not like we were talking about a multimillion dollar contract."
Still, did he regret waiting, considering he went on to suffer through a ordinary 1985 season, in which he hit .239 and had only one pinch-hit after April 27?
"Not really," he said. "I don't think my production dwindled that much . . . Also, I'm realistic. I know what my job is, and there's a certain salary limitation for people who do what I do. I don't want anything outlandish."