Outfielder George Bell, the American League MVP, and the Toronto Blue Jays agreed on a two-year contract that guarantees him $4 million. The settlement came inside the room in New York where Bell's salary arbitration had been put on hold.
It was the third straight year Bell and the Blue Jays came to terms only minutes before they were to have made their arguments to an arbitrator. "I don't want to be like Tom Henke," Bell said, referring to the Toronto reliever who lost his arbitration last week.
Bell will receive $1.9 million this year, and $1.9 million in 1989. The Blue Jays have an option for 1990 at $2 million and must pay Bell $200,000 as a buyout if they do not exercise it. In addition, Bell can earn upward of $400,000 each season in incentive bonuses. During the life of the contract, Bell will have use of a car paid for by the Blue Jays.
"I can go home now, have a couple of cigars and sit in the back yard," he said . . .
In a room adjoining the one in which Bell settled, the New York Mets and pitcher Dwight Good-en -- $40,000 apart on a negotiated settlement -- went ahead with a four-hour arbitration hearing; verdict expected today or Friday.
Frank Tanana and the Detroit Tigers presented their arguments elsewhere. He put in for $1.1 million; the club offered $800,000.
Three arbitration decisions were announced yesterday. Mark Gubicza won and will receive the $635,000 he asked, not the $525,000 the Kansas City Royals offered. Gary Redus of the Chicago White Sox won and was awarded $460,000 instead of $370,000. Chris Brown of the San Diego Padres lost and was given $265,000, not $410,000.
The San Diego Padres rewrote Tony Gwynn's contract upward. He made $740,000 last year; will get $1,090,000 in 1988 instead of $840,000 and $1,190,000 in 1989 instead of $940,000.
Roger McDowell and the Mets compromised on $615,000.