MIAMI BEACH — In his annual state-of-the-game address here Monday, Commissioner Fay Vincent denied charges that baseball has caused the economic decline of its partner television networks, but nonetheless warned of tough times ahead.
Vincent claimed that CBS and ESPN benefited from their expensive baseball contracts, despite reports of huge losses.
"I think there is more to the story," Vincent said. "I believe ESPN has wisely used baseball to dominate cable programming throughout the summer. Where would ESPN be without baseball? There are only so many tractor pulls and billiard matches you can televise."
Vincent added, however, that if new contracts were signed today, each club would receive up to $5 million less than in the previous deal. He said that should serve as a warning to those teams signing players to long-term contracts.
"All of you who deal with club finances should keep those numbers in mind when dealing with budgets for 1994 and beyond," Vincent said.
Vincent also called for revenue sharing between players and owners in order to protect the small markets.
"The crucial issue for baseball is to find a way to provide fairly for a sharing of revenues between players and owners," Vincent said. "The present salary situation is out of hand, and small-market franchises cannot compete in this environment. The recent rate of escalation of player salaries cannot last. There must be a major change in the system so all in baseball can share properly."
The Dodgers and Angels have not traded with one another in 15 years, but that might be changing.
The topic of a Dodger-Angel discussion was probably Kal Daniels, the Dodgers' left-handed hitting outfielder who would fit nicely into the Angels' lineup.
Fred Claire said that the Dodgers would not require a first baseman for Daniels, so the Angels might get him for a couple of prospects.
"If there is a mix there, there is no reason not to talk," said Claire, the Dodger executive vice president. "It would be good for both teams."
The last time the Dodgers and Angels traded was on March 21, 1976, when the Dodgers sent Orlando Alvarez south for Ellie Rodriguez.
The Dodgers offered Daniels to the Oakland Athletics for first baseman Mark McGwire Monday, but were turned down.
They also talked with the Chicago Cubs, probably about first baseman Mark Grace, who was headed to Kansas City until the Royals signed former Angel Wally Joyner.
The Dodgers might also be pursuing Tim Wallach of the Montreal Expos. Wallach, a third baseman now, played first base for Cal State Fullerton.
The Dodgers continue to hold out hope that the reluctant Baltimore Orioles can be persuaded to take Daniels for Randy Milligan.
The Montreal Expos have three former Dodger catchers after acquiring Darrin Fletcher from the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Barry Jones. Fletcher, who joins Gary Carter and Gilberto Reyes on the Expos, has a .227 career average in 62 major league games with two home runs and 15 runs batted in. Jones, a five-year veteran who had demanded a trade, was 4-9 with a 3.35 earned-run average in middle and short relief last season.
The Dodgers' minor league roster lost six players in the draft of unprotected players. Among those taken were former No. 1 draft pick Mike White and former major league outfielder Billy Bean. The loss of White, an outfielder who was the No. 1 selection in 1986 but never advanced past double A, means only one top Dodger pick since 1978 has become a major league regular: Franklin Stubbs, picked in 1982.
Paul Assenmacher, who led National League relievers in innings pitched with 102 2/3, agreed to a three-year contract worth $7.5 million with the Chicago Cubs.