Yankee pitcher Ron Guidry, the class of the class of '81 free agents, was selected by 17 teams in baseball's reentry draft yesterday.
Guidry was selected by more teams than any of the other 40 players in the draft. In previous years, a maximum of 13 clubs could draft a player.
The Yankees also retained negotiating rights to Guidry, although many observers feel that the Yankees' chances of signing him are dimming.
"It was a Guidry draft," said agent Ron Shapiro, attending on behalf of his clients. "Even Reggie (Jackson) was overshadowed."
Shapiro said George Steinbrenner, owner of the Yankees, kept circling John Schneider (Guidry's agent) "like a hawk circling the bait."
Shapiro added that: "By waiting as long as he did, George severely penalized himself. As Schneider said, he missed the swing of the pendulum in the middle and now he has to wait for it go come back."
Schneider told the multitudes at New York's Plaza Hotel: "We are not going to be unreasonable. We are going to have a price tag for each of the 18 ball clubs based on what they can reasonably offer to pay. Eighteen price tags."
Guidry has been seeking a five-year, guaranteed contract, worth $7.5 million. Steinbrenner reportedly has offered $2.5 million over three years. With the marketing leverage he now posseses, Guidry will probably get what he wants and Steinbrenner will have to match the highest offer to keep him. "If he can," said a source close to Guidry. "And that's a big if."
Steinbrenner, who said last week he would not participate in the draft, passed on the first round, and then drafted three pitchers, an indication perhaps that he, too, is not sure he can retain Guidry.
Jackson, the first player selected in the draft, was picked by seven teams (the Yankees also retained their negotiating rights), including the Baltimore Orioles, California Angels and Atlanta Braves. The Braves may be ready to give him everything, including the club presidency. But Jackson has a fondness for Southern California and an American League strike zone.
The Orioles, as expected, drafted Jackson, along with Guidry, and three Cleveland pitchers, John Denny (the second most popular player, who was selected by 13 clubs), Rick Waits (eight clubs) and Sid Monge (nine clubs). The Indians retained the rights to all three. The Orioles also drafted Joaquin Andujar of the Cardinals, who was picked by 11 clubs, and Jerry Remy of Boston, who, surprisingly, was selected by only five teams (the Red Sox retained negotiating rights to him).
Asked if he thought the Orioles could compete financially with the other teams that had drafted Guidry and Jackson, Edward Bennett Williams, the owner of the Orioles, said: "It's a question of judgment whether it's prudent financially to do so."
Williams said he would meet with General Manager Hank Peters Saturday to "plot our course."
There were few surprises in the draft, but that may have been because there were few quality players to choose from. Don Fehr, the general counsel of the Major League Baseball Players Assocation, said: "I didn't detect any particularly significant depatures from last year."
Three teams, the San Diego Padres, Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins, selected no one. Twenty players, including Dick Tidrow, one of three Type A free agents in the draft (for whom additional professional compensation is required), were selected by fewer than four clubs; that means they can negotiate with any club without any compensation being paid for them.