Gary Gaetti ended his 12-year career with the Minnesota Twins yesterday when he agreed to an $11.4 million, four-year contract with the California Angels.
Gaetti, 32, was granted new-look free agency last month and had until Tuesday to either stay with the Twins or sign with another team.
"It was obviously a very tough decision," said Gaetti's agent, Jim Bronner. "He felt a tremendous tie to the Twins and Minneapolis. The contract proposals were very different. Based on the last couple of seasons, he felt it was time for him to get a new beginning."
Twins General Manager Andy MacPhail said Minnesota's final offer was for $2.6 million in 1991, with the chance to earn up to $3 million in each of the next three seasons.
Gaetti has fought injuries and slumps the past two years. Other top Twins also have struggled as Minnesota went from World Series champion in 1987 to AL West cellar-dweller in 1990.
Nevertheless, Gaetti led the Twins with 85 RBI last year, when he batted a career-low .229 and hit only 16 homers.
His career average is .256. He has 201 homers and 758 RBI. Only Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek and Bob Allison have hit more homers for the Twins, and only Killebrew, Oliva and Hrbek have had more RBI.
Gaetti's best season was 1986, when he batted .287 with 34 homers and 108 RBI.
Coincidentally or not, Gaetti's downturn in 1989 corresponded with his revelation that he had become a born-again Christian.
Once a beer-drinking, chain-smoking rabble-rouser, Gaetti's quieter, introspective demeanor changed the personality of the Twins' clubhouse. Hrbek, Gaetti's longtime drinking buddy, once said Gaetti's change hit him "like a death in the family." . . .
Bobby Witt, whose 12-game winning streak in 1990 earned him a spot among the AL's pitching elite, reached agreement with the Texas Rangers on a three-year contract worth $7.3 million.
Witt, 26, went 17-10 last season. His club-record 12 consecutive victories represented the longest winning streak in the major leagues since Roger Clemens went 14-0 to start the 1986 season. Witt's 221 strikeouts were second best in the AL behind teammate Nolan Ryan's 232.
Witt will receive a $100,000 signing bonus, $1.35 million this season, $2.35 million in 1992 and $3 million in 1993. The Rangers have an option for 1994 at $3.25 million and must pay a $500,000 if it's not exercised. . . .
Left-hander Jim DeShaies agreed to a one-year, $2.1 million contract with Houston. DeShaies, 30, who made $1.075 million in 1990, sought $2.4 million in arbitration; Astros officials offered $1.8 million.
DeShaies was 7-12 in 1990 with a 3.78 ERA. . . .
Pitcher Joe Magrane avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals worth $1.025 million.
Magrane slumped to a 10-17 record and 3.59 earned-run average last season after leading NL left-handers with 18 victories in 1989. He had been seeking $1.15 million and the Cardinals had offered $900,000. Last season, he made $315,000.
Magrane, 26, was the only remaining Cardinals player eligible for arbitration. . . .
Right-hander Mark Grant and the Atlanta Braves avoided arbitration when they agreed to a one-year contract worth $540,000, a raise of $140,000.
Grant, acquired from the San Diego Padres July 12 for pitcher Derek Lilliquist, had a record of 1-2 with a 4.64 ERA in 33 games with the Braves. . . .
The New York Yankees signed outfielder Pat Sheridan to a minor league contract and invited outfielder Dion James to their major league camp.
James, 28, batted .274 with one homer and 22 RBI last season with Cleveland. Sheridan, 33, played 23 games for the Chicago Cubs' Class AAA Iowa team last season and hit .329 with four homers and 10 RBI. . . .
Reliever Goose Gossage, 39, agreed to terms on a 1991 contract and accepted the Texas Rangers' invitation to spring training as a nonroster player. Gossage has 307 career major league saves, second to Rollie Fingers' all-time record of 341. He was asking for $610,000 in arbitration while the Braves were offering $480,000.