Resisting the temptation of free agency, Bob Welch signed a two-year contract with the Dodgers Tuesday. Is he the club's newest millionaire? Not all of the contract details were available, but he is definitely close.
A source familiar with the negotiations--both the Dodgers and Welch's attorneys, Jerry Kapstein and Bob Teaff, refused to comment--said Welch will receive a guaranteed $900,000 a year.
The 30-year-old right-hander is coming off a four-year contract that called for $2.6 million, including a 1986 salary of $700,000.
He was 7-13 last year but pitched better than that, as reflected by an earned-run average of 3.28. In a season marred by injuries and errors, Welch started 18 games that were decided by one run and emerged with a 2-5 record and 11 no decisions.
"It was a frustrating season both for myself and the club," Welch said at a Dodger Stadium press conference. "It was a long, difficult year, but there's no doubt in my mind that we'll have a much better club next year. I'm positive about that."
Of the contract, Welch said he was delighted with the length and terms. It is believed that he would have preferred more than two years, but that no club will now offer a pitcher more than that, a by-product of last year's unanimous decision to limit all contracts to three years.
The cold climate that greeted last year's free agents may have influenced Welch's determination to reach an agreement with the Dodgers. Tuesday was the last day that eligible players could file for free agency. Welch said he didn't consider filing because of the progress he was making in negotiations with the Dodgers. However, as a player whose statistics for the last two years put him in the top 50% of all players at his position, Welch could not have become a free agent for another five years once he had filed. Now he is eligible for free agency again after the 1988 season, an important consideration according to Kapstein.
Welch will enter his ninth season with the Dodgers with a 100-77 record. Only Don Sutton, with 230 wins, Don Drysdale, 187, Sandy Koufax, 156, Claude Osteen, 147, and Burt Hooton, 112, won more with the team.
Dodger Vice President Al Campanis, alluding to Welch's victory over alcoholism, said: "He has been a success both in baseball and life. He has been a steady, consistent pitcher for us. We're still hoping he can have that one big year we believe he's capable of having."