SAN DIEGO — Calling it "fiscal responsibility," the San Diego Padres announced Thursday that they will not offer contracts to veteran third baseman Graig Nettles and pitcher Dave LaPoint by Saturday's major league deadline, making both players free agents.
Under baseball rules, the Padres have until Saturday to tender contracts to any of their players who have three or more years of major league service, are unsigned and haven't filed for free agency.
Nettles, 42, and LaPoint are in that group, and if the Padres were to tender either of them contracts, they'd have to pay both players not less than 80% of their 1986 contracts.
Nettles, a six-time All-Star who reached the World Series four times with the New York Yankees and once with the Padres, earned $900,000 last season. LaPoint made close to $600,000. To the Padres, that's too much money, although the team may still sign either player later--for any amount of money.
Nettles, an 18-year major leaguer who last season hit .218 with 16 homers and 55 runs batted in, has said he's willing to take a substantial pay cut to come back to the Padres next season. However, if the team had tendered him a contract on or before Saturday, his pay cut could not have exceeded 20%.
Although sources say there's actually not much of a chance that Nettles is coming back, Nettles' agent, Jerry Kapstein, still thinks something can be worked out.
"The announcement by the club that they are not tendering a contract to Graig comes as no surprise to Graig or to me," Kapstein said Thursday. "We had been told this earlier in conversations with Jack (McKeon, the Padre general manager). Graig has a strong desire to continue playing with San Diego in whatever role may be desired by the club. I anticipate further conversations with Jack in the near future concerning Graig."
McKeon said: "If we decide to negotiate later on (with Nettles), that's our option."
As for LaPoint, he was 1-4 with a 4.26 earned-run average in 1986 after being acquired from Detroit for Mark Thurmond in midseason.