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A Piazza Holdout in Store?

January 20, 1994|MARYANN HUDSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A day after the Dodgers and Mike Piazza met regarding the catcher's 1994 contract, Piazza did not attend the workout at Dodger Stadium for the first time this winter. Even though the workouts are voluntary, Piazza's absence is considered an indication that negotiations could lead to a spring-training holdout.

Dennis Gilbert, Piazza's agent, said both sides are using "different comparables."

"I don't think Mike wants to set new records or chart new waters with a contract, although his numbers entitle him to do it," Gilbert said.

Piazza batted .318 in 149 games with 35 home runs and 112 runs batted in, and was unanimously voted the 1993 National League rookie of the year. The Dodgers are using 1992 rookie of the year Eric Karros as a gauge, and have offered Piazza a little more than the $435,000 Karros received after his rookie year. Karros batted .257 in 149 games with 20 home runs and 88 RBIs.

But Gilbert is comparing Piazza to Frank Thomas, the Chicago White Sox first baseman who received a multiyear contract worth more than $4 million after 1991, his first full season. Thomas hit .318 in 158 games with 32 home runs and 109 RBIs.

"Let's just say this is all part of the steps this time of year that we need to go through," said Fred Claire, Dodger executive vice president. "This is part of the structure we are working with, players in the 0-3 year categories. This isn't free agency. We are looking for a resolution of a salary. I hope we can do it."

The Dodgers have the option of renewing Piazza's salary at $126,000 if the sides do not come to an agreement by early spring training. Piazza's only option would be to hold out.

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