A year after he became a two-way starter with the Dallas Cowboys, Deion Sanders is going back to being a two-sport player.
Sanders agreed Thursday to an unusual one-year contract with Cincinnati that binds him to the Reds until they are eliminated from the pennant race. The agreement means Sanders will miss the Cowboys’ training camp and might be unavailable for some of their early games.
There’s also an informal agreement at work. General Manager Jim Bowden said the club would give Sanders the option of leaving to play for the Cowboys if the Reds are out of contention in September.
“I’m going to be there for the Dallas Cowboys in every way,” Sanders said. “It’s up to my discretion, and I’m going to weigh both sides heavily and make the best decision, even if I have to put a poll in the newspapers.”
If the Reds are still within striking distance, it could get interesting. The Cowboys expect him back and appear to have a slightly different understanding of the baseball arrangement.
“We are supportive of Deion and his decision, and we are planning to have him be with us for all 16 games next year,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “This is something that we have discussed with Deion, his agent and the Reds organization.”
A source said Sanders’ football contract cleared the way for him to return to baseball by guaranteeing him full pay from Dallas if he plays in eight regular-season games.
Left-hander Chris Haney and the Kansas City Royals (10-14, 4.70 ERA in 1996) agreed to a $1.7 million, one-year contract, nearly triple his $575,000 salary last season.
Reggie Jefferson, who will help fill the hitting void left by the trade of Jose Canseco, agreed to a $1.9 million, one-year contract with the Boston Red Sox.