The Chicago Cubs have moved to keep first baseman Mark Grace, or at least get something if they lose him, offering the unrestricted free agent $4.4 million for 1995.
That just matches Grace’s salary in 1994. But Sunday’s offer was enough to beat the deadline for teams to make qualifying offers to their unrestricted free agents.
Grace still can negotiate with other teams. But if another team signs him, it would have to give the Cubs a draft pick. Any other team could have signed him without compensating the Cubs if they hadn’t promised Grace he would make at least as much this year as he did last year.
Cubs general manager Ed Lynch called the decision “a no-brainer” and said he hoped it would be enough to convince Grace he is considered the key to rebuilding the last-place team.
Grace, who has a career average of .303, hit .298 last season with six home runs. He committed seven errors in 106 games.
“Mark has made it clear he only wants to play for the Cubs,” said Grace’s agent, Barry Axelrod.
Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, one of the most flamboyant, controversial and popular pitchers of the last two decades, signed a minor-league contract with the Chicago White Sox and became the first well-known player to commit as a replacement for striking major-leaguers.
Boyd, 35, acknowledged from his home in Florida that his decision was painful. But he said he made it without reluctance because it was the only way to get back into the game he loves and has missed since 1991.
There have been reports that former Cub Leon Durham might do the same thing, but sources close to Durham said he may be having second thoughts.
Managers, coaches and trainers who work with replacement players may be eliminated from the union’s benefits and licensing programs. Eugene Orza, the union’s No. 2 official, said the union’s executive board will consider the issue when it next meets, probably the week of Jan. 30. He said no decision will be made until then.
The Toronto Blue Jays are cutting ticket prices for spring training games, regardless of whether replacement players or genuine major leaguers take the field in Florida. The team announced tickets for games at Dunedin’s Grant Field will be cut to $5 and $4 from $9 and $7. Fans who have ordered tickets already will be mailed refunds.