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Gwynn Agrees to Extension

December 14, 1988|JEFFREY PARENTI

SAN DIEGO — The Padres, having already strengthened themselves with several offseason additions, took another positive step Tuesday by signing Tony Gwynn to a contract extension that will keep him with the club at least through 1991.

Gwynn, the 3-time National League batting champion, will be paid $2 million in 1991. An option for 1992, also for $2 million, must be exercised by the end of the 1990 season. If the club decides not to pick up the option, there is a $200,000 buyout clause.

Gwynn also will receive a $325,000 signing bonus.

Under a improved contract he negotiated last year, Gwynn will be paid $1 million in both 1989 and 1990, with performance incentives that could mean as much as $375,000 more per year.

"I think its great," Gwynn said of the extension. "I didn't go in and ask for it. Dick Freeman (the Padres' acting president) called my agent, John Boggs, and they've been working on it for 2 weeks now and just finalized it (Tuesday) morning. I feel great, it's a great deal."

Said Freeman: "Everyone in San Diego knows what Tony Gwynn has meant to the Padres. He has been a valuable member of the community, and we are delighted to have reached this accord."

A little less than 10 months ago, Gwynn and the Padres compromised on a $500,000 raise spread over 3 years. But there was no extension, which Gwynn wanted. Gwynn had asked Chub Feeney, then the club's president, for a guarantee of $1.6 million for the 1991 and 1992 seasons but was refused.

Tuesday he was all smiles.

"When I got the $500,000 raise over 3 years, I was happy with that, I wasn't going to complain anymore," he said. "But at the end of the year, Dick Freeman called my agent. The number figures, as far as I'm concerned, are unbelievable. There's no way I was going to turn them down to be honest with you. It's just a good deal."

"I never thought of myself as a $2 million ballplayer. The figures were thrown at me, of course I'm going to take it. I've always tried to get an extension because I never wanted to take the chance going down the free-agent road, not knowing what's going to happen, especially after '90, which is supposed to be a strike year. I've always been the kind of guy, I take the security and worry about the other things later."

Gwynn said he was happy that the team would have to notify him in 1990 whether they were picking up the 1992 option.

"That way I'll know if I have 2 years left or 1 year left," he said. "That's an advantage to the player, I believe. Coming off a possible strike year, it's going to be tough to judge exactly whether or not they should commit to this $2 million in '92. So I'll know one way or the other."

Gwynn said the final wrinkle ironed out Tuesday morning was a clause involving payment in the event of an owner lockout of players in 1990, when there is a good possibility of a players' strike. The language of the lockout clause was the same hurdle that, for about 8 hours last week, appeared to have cost the Padres free-agent pitcher Bruce Hurst.

"It's not the best, it's not the worst," Gwynn said. "The language is in the middle. If they do lock you out, you can go to arbitration to try to get your money back."

The Padres have spent the off-season adding talent and high salaries. Power-hitting first baseman Jack Clark came in a trade with a 1-year contract for $1.5 million. Hurst will cost $5.25 million over 3 years, with incentives that could boost it to $5.6 million.

In this case, the Padres took care of one of their own.

"My personal goals have always been winning," Gwynn said. "Everybody wants to go out and have that great individual year, but when you don't win it takes away from anything you've done. I've hit .370, I've won batting titles, I've won Gold Gloves. All that stuff is nice. I want to win, and I think the Padres have taken the stance that they want to win, too.

"I would be lying if I said the money wasn't important because it is," Gwynn said, "but still I want to win. I don't want to go out there for 162 games and work hard every day and find yourself 20 games out by the All-Star break. It's turning around, and everybody is talking about the Padres, and people are excited again."

Padre Notes

In a trade of non-roster players, the Padres sent left-handed pitcher Ed Vosberg to Houston for catcher Dan Walters, a Santana High School graduate. The Padres assigned Walters to the Wichita (double-A) roster. Walters, 22, played for Columbus (Ga.) in the Class A South Atlantic League in 1988, batting .233 with 7 homers and 28 RBIs in 98 games. Houston picked him in the fifth round in the June 1984 draft. Vosberg, 27, went 11-7 with a 4.15 ERA in 1988 for Las Vegas (triple-A). He appeared in 45 games, starting 11. The Padres chose Vosberg in the third round of the June 1983 draft. He appeared briefly with San Diego in 1986, going 0-1 with a 6.59 ERA in 5 games (3 starts).

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