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Reds Trade Parker for Two Pitchers : Outfielder to A's for Rijo, Birtsas; Cubs Deal Lee Smith

December 09, 1987|ROSS NEWHAN | Times Staff Writer

DALLAS — Three rivals in the National League completed trades Tuesday as the Dodgers, in the words of Executive Vice President Fred Claire, merely narrowed the possibilities some.

Shattering the boredom at baseball's winter meetings:

--The Cincinnati Reds, intent on rebuilding their pitching and confident that young outfielders Tracy Jones and Paul O'Neill can pick up the offensive slack, traded veteran outfielder Dave Parker to the Oakland Athletics for promising pitchers Jose Rijo and Tim Birtsas.

--The Houston Astros, determined to acquire a regular shortstop, traded two minor league prospects, infielder Ed Whited and pitcher Mike Stoker, to the Atlanta Braves for Rafael Ramirez.

--The Chicago Cubs, reportedly concerned about Lee Smith's continued resiliency in the face of frequent knee and back problems, sent the renowned relief pitcher to the Boston Red Sox for relief pitcher Calvin Schiraldi and veteran starter-reliever Al Nipper.

The Dodgers?

"We've narrowed the scope to the point where we have some opportunities, but whether they'll be fulfilled or not remains to be seen," Claire said.

"We don't have a firm agreement on players. We're not there yet."

The principal negotiations seem to involve the reshaping of offers from the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Mets for Bob Welch.

The Mets have been tempting the Dodgers with shortstop Rafael Santana, relief pitcher Jesse Orosco and outfielder Mookie Wilson, but sources say the Dodgers would rather have pitcher Rick Aguilera than Wilson, in which case the Mets would want the Dodgers to include a prospect.

The Blue Jays have reportedly offered shortstop Manny Lee and pitcher Dave Stieb, with the Dodgers asking for left-handed pitcher John Cerutti instead. The Dodgers are believed to have concerns about Stieb's physical status and a contract that extends until 1995 and includes an escalating salary that begins at $1.5 million in 1989.

The Dodgers are also believed to be discussing two deals involving Mike Marshall.

One would apparently include San Diego Padres relief pitcher Lance McCullers. The other, signifying a renewal of talks that appeared dead late in the season, would send Marshall to Seattle for left fielder Phil Bradley.

The Angels, meanwhile, could be a factor in the talks between the Dodgers and Blue Jays.

Mike Port, the Angels' executive vice president, is believed to have investigated the availability of one of two Toronto relief pitchers, Jeff Musselman and Mark Eichhorn, for shortstop Gus Polidor, who would replace Lee as the infield insurance if shortstop Tony Fernandez has a problem with the broken elbow suffered at the end of the season.

While the sub-plots thickened, the reality Tuesday was that the Dodgers were still not among the clubs that had finally turned rumor to fact. A review:

Reds-A's Parker, at 36, drove in 97 runs and hit 26 homers, but the Reds apparently felt that he foreclosed on his leadership role in the second half of the season. They were reportedly concerned about the resiliency of his ailing knees, put a priority on reducing their payroll in the face of 11 possible arbitration cases and were obviously high on the potential of Rijo and Birtsas, who can each light up a speed gun.

"You don't replace a Dave Parker overnight," Manager Pete Rose said. "It takes time. But we have two young players (Jones and O'Neill) who have tremendous offensive potential.

"We needed the pitching, and I like the feeling I'm starting to get. I think we have some real options now."

Rose alluded to the starting rotation, where only Ron Robinson and Tom Browning remain from the start of last season. Now the supplement includes Rijo, Birtsas, Dennis Rasmussen and Danny Jackson, the left-hander who was recently acquired from the Kansas City Royals for shortstop Kurt Stillwell.

"We've made two major pitching moves and kept most of the kids we feel will be our future, Rose said.

Parker gives the A's one of the strongest offenses in the American League, a left-handed bat to complement the right-handed power of Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Carney Lansford and Terry Steinbach.

Manager Tony LaRussa alluded to the likely departure of left-handed hitting free agents Dwayne Murphy and Mike Davis and said: "Our lineup has more of a complete look now. We think our offense can match up with anybody's."

The A's also think that Parker's knees will benefit from their grass field and his being a designated hitter at times.

"We don't look for him to play the outfield every day," General Manager Sandy Alderson said. "That's one advantage of the American League."

Alderson came here saying that the A's were determined to leave as the favorite in the AL West. Does this do it?

He smiled and said: "I'll let others make that judgment, but it's certainly a move in the right direction, I think."

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