Archive for Wednesday, December 20, 2000

Baltimore signs Hentgen, Segui; Ten reject arbitration

December 20, 2000


— The Baltimore Orioles finally made some moves on the free-agent market Tuesday, agreeing to a $28 million, four-year contract with first baseman David Segui and a $9.6 million, two-year deal with pitcher Pat Hentgen.

Hentgen, a 32-year-old right-hander, went 15-12 with a 4.72 ERA in 33 starts with the St. Louis Cardinals this year.

Hentgen spent his entire career with the Blue Jays before being traded to the Cardinals last November. He won the AL Cy Young Award in 1996, going 20-10 with a 3.22 ERA.

This was essentially the first time he was a free agent, and Hentgen chose the Orioles after talking with five different teams.

"It's funny how free agency works," he said. "I never really thought the Orioles and I would fit, but it worked out. It's a comforting feeling knowing where I'll be the next two seasons."

Hentgen said he picked the Orioles in part because he wanted to return to the American League.

Until Hentgen signed, Baltimore's only significant transaction was acquiring minor league first baseman Jay Gibbons from Toronto in last week's draft of players not on 40-man rosters.

"Just when everyone thought we were sleeping, we woke up," said Syd Thrift, the Orioles vice president of baseball operations.

Segui's contract was confirmed by a source familiar with the deal who spoke on the condition he not be identified and was expected to be announced today.

The 34-year-old first baseman, who returns to the team that gave him his start a decade ago, 3hit .334 with 19 homers and 103 RBIs this year for Texas and Cleveland.

On a busy day, right-hander John Burkett decided to stay with the Atlanta Braves, agreeing to a $1.75 million, one-year contract. Catcher Tom Prince agreed to a minor league contract with Minnesota that would pay him $400,000 if he makes the team.

That meant just over half of this year's free agents had signed, 69 of 136.

The 10 free agents who faced a midnight EST deadline to accept or reject salary arbitration offers from their former teams all said no thanks: designated hitter Harold Baines (Chicago White Sox), outfielder Bobby Bonilla (Atlanta), outfielder Juan Gonzalez (Detroit), second baseman Craig Grebeck (Toronto), right-hander Bobby J. Jones (New York Mets), first baseman Wally Joyner (Atlanta), right-hander Scott Kamieniecki (Atlanta), catcher Tom Lampkin (Seattle), infielder Dave Magadan (San Diego) and left-hander Scott Radinsky (St. Louis).

The players can negotiate with their former teams through Jan. 8. Of the 28 free agents offered salary arbitration last month, 18 already have signed.

Detroit general manager Randy Smith said Gonzalez's decision "pretty much closes the chapter" on the outfielder's one-year stay in Detroit.

Smith said talks failed to progress "primarily the length of the contract" requested by Gonzalez and his agent, Scott Boras.

In his first season with Detroit following a November 1999 trade from Texas, Gonzalez hit .289 with 22 home runs and 67 RBIs less than half what he averaged the previous four years. He missed 47 games and sat out the final 1 1/2 weeks of the season with a herniated disk.

Last winter, Gonzalez's former agent negotiated an eight-year package with Detroit worth about $143 million, but Gonzalez turned it down.

Also, left-hander Norm Charlton came out of retirement, agreeing to a minor league contract with Seattle. Charlton, 37, pitched in just two games last season, compiling a 27.00 ERA for Cincinnati. He would get a $500,000, one-year contract if he makes the Mariners' roster.

With the approach of today's deadline for teams to offer contracts to the unsigned players on their 40-man rosters, several players eligible for salary arbitration agreed to new contracts.

Outfielder Matt Stairs, traded to Chicago, agreed to a $3.2 million, one-year contract with the Cubs. Left-handed reliever Vic Darensbourg agreed to a $2.7 million, three-year contract with the Florida Marlins.

Outfielder Ruben Rivera agreed to a $1 million, one-year contract with the San Diego Padres; infielder Enrique Wilson agreed to a $635,000, one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates; and right-hander Jason Johnson agreed to a $350,000, one-year contract with the Orioles.

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