Free-agent first baseman Steve Garvey moved 100 miles south today and received a birthday present a day early by signing a five-year, $6.6 million guaranteed contract with the San Diego Padres.
The contract also includes bonus incentives that could land Garvey an additional $575,000 a year and has a "no trade" clause. None of the payments are deferred.
If Garvey, who turns 34 Wednesday, were to collect on all of the bonuses, The Associated Press reported, the contract's value would balloon to $9.475 million, $2.5 million to $3.5 million more than the Los Angeles Dodgers' four-year offer to keep him from becoming a free agent.
If Garvey achieves all his incentives, his contract would be one of the most lucrative in baseball, putting him in the same category as Gary Carter of the Montreal Expos, Dave Winfield of the New York Yankees and Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Garvey called the contract "a nice birthday present."
Garvey chose the Padres over the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants after weeks of deliberation. The deciding factor was the southern California area, which is close to Garvey's Los Angeles home and where he hopes someday to enter politics.
Cubs spokesman Ned Colletti said officials of that team were "kind of disappointed" to lose Garvey, and said the Padres' offer was "far and above anything" the Cubs had offered. He also said reports that the club had offered Garvey $6.75 million over five years were "in the ballpark."
Garvey, who has batted .283 and .282 the last two seasons after hitting at least .297 for eight straight years, was a batboy for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the mid-1950s and entered the major leagues with Los Angeles as a third baseman. He has a consecutive games-played streak of 1,107, fourth longest in major league history.
"We're signing him because the potential rewards are great," Padres President Ballard Smith told ABC Radio Sports. "One is winning, which is why people buy teams. Another are the financial rewards. He can put people in the park. CAPTION: Picture, Steve Garvey: Rewards for free agency may reach $9.475 million for five-year contract with Padres. UPI