The glow of their victory in the World Series faded Friday night when the Dodgers were unable to agree on new contracts with two of their principal players--second baseman Steve Sax and right fielder Mike Marshall.
The inability of the Dodgers to obtain agreements before the club's self-imposed deadline of 9 p.m. apparently has ended the careers of Sax and Marshall in Los Angeles.
As players who have filed for free agency, both can begin accepting bids from any of the 26 clubs today.
The Dodgers imposed their deadline in an attempt to avoid free-agent bidding wars, and they ended their negotiations at that point.
Executive Vice President Fred Claire said, however, that the Dodgers will offer both players a chance to return to the club through arbitration.
The players have until Dec. 19 to agree to arbitration, in which a 1989 salary would be chosen by an impartial arbitrator from bids submitted by the club and the player.
Both Sax and Marshall, however, said they are not interested in arbitration and will pursue employment elsewhere.
"I'm very surprised and very, very disappointed," Sax said of the futile negotiations.
Marshall echoed those thoughts at the end of a long day that had opened promisingly for the Dodgers when they reached a quick agreement with shortstop Alfredo Griffin, who was also eligible for free agency.
Griffin, who earned $750,000 last season as he stabilized that key infield position, will receive $2 million over the next 2 years. His contract includes a $200,000 signing bonus and a salary of $900,000 in 1989 and '90. He also can earn $900,000 in 1991 if the Dodgers pick up his option.
Pitcher Mario Soto, one of the four remaining Dodgers eligible for free agency Friday, withdrew from that market and will continue to negotiate with the club.
The negotiations for Sax and Marshall were conducted by attorneys Jerry Kapstein and Bob Teaff by telephone from their office in La Jolla.
According to both sides, the Dodgers made the same proposal to Sax and Marshall: Salaries of $1 million in 1989 and $1.1 million in 1990 and an option for 1991 at $1.1 million, with a $200,000 buyout if the Dodgers failed to exercise the option. The guarantees, including buyout, totaled $2.3 million.
Sax earned $800,000 last season, when he batted .277 with 57 runs batted in and 42 stolen bases.
He said he asked for a 3-year guarantee of $3.95 million, including a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $1.5 million in 1989, $500,000 in 1990--when there is the threat of a labor strike--and $1.45 million in 1991.
Marshall, who earned $760,000 last season, when he hit .277 with 20 home runs and 82 RBIs, said he asked for a 3-year guarantee of $3.8 million.
"I thought the proposal was fair, right on the money," Marshall said. "It was under Kirk Gibson (who received a 3-year, $4.5-million contract from the Dodgers before last season) and $2.4 million under what Pedro Guerrero got. I hit fourth, I drove in runs, I did what they wanted me to do, but it wasn't enough, apparently.
"I'm surprised and disappointed. I've spent my entire career with the Dodgers, but that's over now. It's too early to say where I'll be playing next year, but I have an open mind. I will not accept arbitration from the Dodgers, however."
It is believed that the San Diego Padres, Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners are among the clubs interested in Marshall, who has privately expressed interest in playing for his hometown Chicago Cubs.
Sax could next be employed by the Oakland Athletics, who have announced that they will not pick up the option on second baseman Glenn Hubbard. The A's would represent a homecoming for Sax, who is from Sacramento.
Sax seemed frustrated by the Dodgers' refusal to guarantee a third year.
"My numbers didn't matter," he said. "Neither did the fact that I've only been on the disabled list once. I came here today wanting to sign a 3-year contract and stay with the organization, but they would only offer 2 years and an option. They said it was club policy. What about the 3-year contract Kirk Gibson signed?"
Sax said his proposal was based on the 3-year, $6.2-million contract that outfielder Tim Raines recently signed with the Montreal Expos.
"Raines has definitely been more productive than I have, but we're similar players," Sax said. "I asked for more than $2 million less than he did, after helping my team win a World Series.
"Sometimes you have to buckle down and do what's best for your future. I gave the Dodgers every chance to sign me and feel I made the right decision. I'm not looking at arbitration. I'm looking at other clubs, and the only way to do that is through free agency. If the Dodgers changed their mind (about the deadline), I'd continue to negotiate."
Claire said he wouldn't change his mind. He said 1 day, 10 days or 30 days more wouldn't make a difference, that at some point one had to draw a line and set financial limits.