NEW YORK, NOV. 4 -- Jack Clark, Jack Morris and 14 others players will be made new-look free agents in a six-to-eight-week period that probably will begin in January, baseball union head Donald Fehr said today.
Major league team owners have agreed to settle the collusion cases with a payment to the players' association that will total $280 million on Jan. 2, several agents and lawyers familiar with the agreement have said. As part of the deal, 16 players will be given the chance to leave their teams and become free agents again.
The others who will be made new-look free agents are Atlanta pitcher Charlie Leibrandt, Boston pitcher Larry Andersen, California outfielder Chili Davis, Detroit catcher Mike Heath, Houston pitchers Danny Darwin and Dave Smith, Minnesota pitcher Juan Berenguer and third baseman Gary Gaetti, Montreal pitcher Dennis Martinez, New York Yankees pitchers Dave LaPoint and Mike Witt, Oakland outfielder Dave Henderson and San Francisco outfielder Brett Butler and pitcher Mike LaCoss.
A source involved in the deal confirmed that the sides settled on the $280 million figure and the new-look free agency in a handshake agreement between the lawyers on Oct. 26.
The source said that all other details of the agreement will have to be worked out before it can be presented for ratification to the 26 clubs and the executive board of the Major League Baseball Players Association.
The sides have not agreed when the payment will be made. If it is not made on Jan. 2, the sides will have to agree on an interest rate between then and the date of the payment.
In addition, they must determine the amount of payments to individual players. Union lawyers estimate approximately 300 players are involved in the cases.
The union also wants owners to agree on guidelines to salary arbitrators this winter which would take into account shortfalls to player salaries caused by collusion.
Under new-look free agency, players can keep their current contracts or for a limited period void their deals and sign a new agreement with any team. This is the method Kirk Gibson used to leave the Detroit Tigers and sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 1987 season.
In other news, free-agent outfielder Vince Coleman reportedly has been offered a $7.5 million, three-year contract by the St. Louis Cardinals, but says he'll listen to any offers.
The Cardinals' original offer reportedly was $6 million over three years.