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Salmon Goes to Head of Class : Baseball: His four-year, $7.5-million contract with the Angels is the richest for a second-year player.

March 04, 1994|BOB NIGHTENGALE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

TEMPE, Ariz. — Angel right fielder Tim Salmon prefers Jeeps to Mercedes. He'll take fast-food over candlelight cuisine. He wears jeans instead of Armanis.

But when a guy signs a four-year contract for $7.5 million, making him the richest second-year player in baseball history, you would think there would be some extra spending.

So just how did he plan to celebrate Thursday's historic signing?

"I think we're having leftovers," Salmon said. "Got a game tomorrow, you know."

Salmon, who immediately becomes one of the most unpretentious millionaires in the world, will be paid $600,000 in 1994, $900,000 in 1995, $2.5 million in 1996 and $3.5 million in 1997. The contract also includes All-Star and MVP award bonus clauses.

"Just winning the rookie of the year took the whole winter for that to sink in," Salmon said, "so this could take a while. Things have happened pretty fast since I got to the big leagues.

"I never dreamed I'd be in this situation so soon."

In an unprecedented day that might forever change the Angels' penny-pinching image, Salmon was one of three players who received multiyear contracts. Center fielder Chad Curtis signed a three-year, $4.5-million contract and shortstop Gary DiSarcina received a three-year, $2.9-million contract.

"I don't know about past history, but this is the way the current administration wants to approach it," Angel General Manager Bill Bavasi said. "We're very confident about their ability on the field, but you can't protect against everything."

Said Agent Ted Updike, who completed Salmon's contract after six hours of negotiations: "This is a change of philosophy, if you will. Mrs. (Jackie) Autry said she was doing something different than they had ever done with the young players. Hopefully, she said, it will set the tone of success that will follow on the field."

The Angels, trying to retain their nucleus without facing the perils of arbitration, have 10 players on their 40-man roster under multiyear contracts--including five who are 26 years or younger.

"I think this is a new era of open relations," DiSarcina said. "The cold war is over."

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