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Joyner Signs, but McCaskill Walks Out : Angel Pitcher Cites a 'Lack of Fairness' in Contract Negotiations

March 06, 1987|MIKE PENNER | Times Staff Writer

MESA, Ariz. — Wally Joyner and Kirk McCaskill sat down and talked contract with Angel General Manager Mike Port Thursday. One walked out of Port's office with a new agreement for 1987. The other just walked out.

Joyner began the day by signing a one-year contract believed to be worth $160,000 with incentive considerations. The settlement was reached largely because of a concession on Joyner's part. The Angels' offer of $160,000 had been standing all week while Joyner had been seeking $200,000.

"The bottom figure did not change," Joyner said. "I told Mike I'm not here looking for more money, I wanted to get some questions answered. I felt the figures were very reasonable, and Mike answered my questions in what I felt was a professional manner. I look at this as a good experience that we can live with."

McCaskill felt differently. The two sides are far apart--the Angels' best offer was $222,000, and McCaskill is reportedly asking for a contract in the $350,000 range--and after meeting with Manager Gene Mauch and Port, McCaskill left camp.

"I had no intention of this happening," McCaskill told reporters. "But this is what it has come to.

"I've left a (written) statement," he said as he got into his car.

Where was he headed?

"I don't know where I'm going," he said. "On vacation or something."

With that, McCaskill left, and the Angels, at least temporarily, had lost a 17-game winner.

McCaskill's statement read:

"We have a disagreement. Due to a sense of a lack of fairness and personal conviction, I can't play baseball at this point.

"I know the amount of dollars are large amounts, but I think anybody that's at the top of their respective profession would want to be dealt with fairly. Money is not an issue; it's an issue of strong-arm tactics.

"I want to play baseball, but this hurts. It really hurts."

Thursday was D-Day for the seven remaining unsigned players in the Angel camp, the deadline Port set for contract negotiations. Either an agreement will be reached, Port said, or the club will automatically renew that player's 1986 contract.

The Angels did not renew McCaskill, but there were indications that all was not well between pitcher and team early in the day.

McCaskill arrived at the training complex at 10:10 in the morning, 10 minutes after the start of practice. He was asked about Thursday's scheduled meeting between Port and McCaskill's agent, Marvin Demoff.

"The meeting's been canceled," McCaskill said as he headed for the field.

In the outfield, he pulled Mauch aside, and they talked for about 20 minutes. After that, McCaskill entered Port's office for another discussion.

And then, by 11:30, McCaskill was gone.

Demoff, reached in Los Angeles, said that Port had called off the meeting Wednesday night. "He said that we really aren't going to negotiate, so there isn't any reason to come," Demoff said.

Wednesday, the Angels reportedly made an offer of $215,000 to McCaskill. Thursday, according to Demoff, Port upped that figure $7,000 but told McCaskill that if he didn't sign, the club would renew him at $5,000 less--or $210,000.

"What Port was telling Kirk was, 'I'll bribe you to give in a little more or it'll cost you,' " Demoff said.

"The action Kirk took was based on the Angels telling him that they would renew him at lower than their best offer. Had they given Kirk a straight renewal at the last offer ($215,000), he would not have taken the action he did."

Port, who spent most of the day behind closed doors, issued a statement on McCaskill's walkout.

"Kirk McCaskill's a fine individual," it began. "He negotiates as intensely as he competes on the mound. Although I disagree with Kirk leaving camp, I know he is sincere in what he is doing from his perspective, and I imagine everyone, at some point, feels he must do what his principles dictate."

McCaskill made $142,000 during 1986, a season in which he finished 17-10 with a 3.36 earned-run average and 202 strikeouts in 246 innings. He was sixth in the American League in victories, seventh in ERA and seventh in strikeouts.

McCaskill is not eligible for arbitration until after the 1988 season.

Mauch said he understood McCaskill's decision.

"He felt it wasn't fair that certain players in the past were offered so much money and then he has a better season, but is not paid the same," Mauch said. "Unfortunately, it's more like the old days now, because ballplayers cannot establish their own value before they get to arbitration.

"When his time comes and an arbitrator says 'Pay him $600,000 or $700,000,' I think the Angels would be tickled to death to do it."

Demoff said that McCaskill was returning to his Irvine home to cool off. "Right now, Kirk's pretty upset. No matter what happens, I think he'll take at least this weekend."

Mauch said he feared a lengthy holdout.

"Based on McCaskill's attitude this morning, he's upset and upset to the point where he may take a year's beating financially," Mauch said. "I don't know."

So, how do the Angels go about replacing a 17-game winner?

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