Jack Morris elected to become a free agent yesterday, and reliever Juan Berenguer left the Minnesota Twins and signed with the Atlanta Braves for $2.1 million over two years.
The Twins, however, got a player back when they signed outfielder Chili Davis for one year at a guaranteed $2 million, including a $500,000 signing bonus. The Twins have an option of a $300,000 buyout in 1992, or must pay $2.5 million. The 1992 deal could increase to $2,725,000 based on 1991 bonuses for up to 140 games and 600 plate appearances.
Davis hit .265 with 12 homers and 58 RBI for the California Angels last season.
Two other new-look free agents, San Francisco pitcher Mike LaCoss and New York Yankees pitcher Dave LaPoint, received no definite offers by the midnight deadline and decided to stay with their clubs.
Fifteen players were granted new-look free agency Dec. 7 as part of the $280 million collusion settlement. They could re-sign with their clubs, stay with their teams under their existing contracts or become free agents.
Morris chose the third option, abandoning his roster spot with Detroit and his salary arbitration case, for which he was asking for $3.35 million. The Tigers had offered the pitcher $9.3 million over three years, according to team spokesman Dan Ewald. Morris made $2.1 million in 1990.
Agent Richard Moss said other teams were interested in Morris, the winningest pitcher of the 1980s. But he indicated he was unsatisfied with other teams' offers when he said, "Jack has no interest in a one-year contract."
Moss, who would not identify the other teams, said he believed the Tigers still were interested in attempting to re-sign Morris, 35, who was 15-18 last season with a 4.51 ERA. However, no Detroit officials could be reached for comment.
The arbitration list shrunk to 112 players yesterday when pitcher Jerry Don Gleaton and Detroit agreed to a one-year contract for $510,000, a raise of $334,000, and catcher Charlie O'Brien and the New York Mets settled at $300,000, a $135,000 raise.
Berenguer, 36, was 8-5 with a 3.41 ERA and no saves in 51 relief appearances last season with the Twins.
"Berenguer's a talented, hard-throwing pitcher who could fit into our staff in a number of ways," Atlanta General Manager John Schuerholz said. "He brings experience and durability to an essentially young group of pitchers."
Berenguer took a slight pay cut for 1991 to get an extra guaranteed year on his contract. Under his two-year, $1.9 million deal with the Twins, Berenguer would have made $1.05 million in 1991. Atlanta will pay him $900,000 this season and $1.2 million in 1992.
Davis was scheduled to make $1.45 million in 1991, the final season in a three-year, $4.1 million contract with California.
LaPoint will be paid $900,000 even if the Yankees release him.
LaCoss was talking with teams but didn't have any definite offers. He will be paid $1.3 million this season by San Francisco, which has an option for 1992 at $1.3 million with a $100,000 buyout.