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Dawson Is Signed for $650,000 : Free-Agent Outfielder Lets Cubs Fix Price of One-Year Contract

March 07, 1987|United Press International

MESA, Ariz. — Free-agent outfielder Andre Dawson reached agreement on a one-year contract with the Chicago Cubs Friday.

The Cubs announced the former Montreal Expos outfielder came to terms on the one-year deal, which is reportedly worth $650,000 with $500,000 guaranteed. Earlier this week, Dawson, 32, had offered to attend Cubs camp, saying he was willing to sign a contract with no dollar amount listed.

Cubs President Dallas Green said the "unique offer" by Dawson and his agent, Dick Moss, convinced the Cubs to sign the outfielder.

"After the various press conferences Moss and I had recently, I think the mind-set of Dallas Green and John Madigan (an official with Tribune Company, team owner) was to say 'forget it,' " Green said. "But Dick's unique proposal, where we could name our own price, put the ball squarely in our own court."

Green had scoffed at the original offer made earlier this week by Moss, before changing his view.

"Andre and Dick were willing to sacrifice salary and principle in 1987 to play in Wrigley Field for the Cubs," Green said.

Dawson is to report to the Cubs' Mesa training camp by Monday and will be one of 12 outfielders on a club that lost 90 games last season.

Dawson, who batted .284 with 20 homers and 78 RBIs last year, has been hampered by injured knees. Included in his contract is a $150,000 incentive clause if he stays off the disabled list and another $50,000 if he makes the National League All-Star team.

Moss said Dawson would receive the $150,000 incentive "provided he is not on the disabled list by reason of knee injury prior to the All-Star break.

"We had hoped that the club's definition of fairness would have been more realistic," Moss said, "but our offer was unconditional and we will, of course, honor our commitment."

The signing of Dawson may break the logjam that has prevented this year's current crop of key free agents from signing with new teams--amid rumors of club owners colluding against free agency. The other major free agents are Tim Raines of Montreal, Ron Guidry of the New York Yankees, Lance Parrish of Detroit, Rich Gedman of Boston, Bob Boone of California, Doyle Alexander of Atlanta and Bob Horner of Atlanta.

Green said he didn't know whether the signing of Dawson would have an impact on other teams' negotiations.

"We're talking about a sizable salary reduction; we're not talking nickels and dimes," Green said.

The Cubs have the third-highest payroll in the major leagues. Part of that came from Green's signing of free-agent pitchers Rick Sutcliffe, Steve Trout and Dennis Eckersley after Chicago won the NL East in 1984. Green said he regretted paying that kind of money, which increased the team's payroll to more than $15 million.

"Our baseball people were able to convince Tribune Company that we as an organization could overcome the obstacles we had presented to (the owners in) signing him and perhaps improve the team in 1987," Green said. "The rest is up to Andre and the Cub players who were so anxious to see this accomplished."

Sutcliffe had said prior to spring training he would be willing to give up $100,000 of his own $1.7-million-a-year pact if the Cubs would sign Dawson.

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