Burkett inks minor league deal with Devil Rays
Posted: Monday January 17, 2000 11:07 PM
John Burkett was 9-8 with a 5.62 ERA for the Rangers in 1999. Jed Jacobsohn/Allsport
NEW YORK (AP) -- On the eve of what could be a record day in salary arbitration, eight more players settled Monday and free agent John Burkett agreed to a deal with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Seventy-nine players were set to exchange proposed salaries with their teams Tuesday and the focus was on a pair of New York Yankees: shortstop Derek Jeter and closer Mariano Rivera.
Jeter won $5 million in arbitration last winter and Rivera $4.25 million. It was possible Jeter could exceed the record amount requested, $9 million by teammate Bernie Williams in 1998.
New York countered Williams at $7.5 million that winter, the most offered by a team, and the sides settled at $8.25 million. After the season, when Williams was a free agent, the Yankees signed him to an $87.5 million, seven-year contract.
Last January, when just 38 players swapped numbers with their teams, the most asked for was $6.5 million, by Toronto first baseman Carlos Delgado.
Most players and teams settle before hearings. The highest award by an arbitrator was the $5.3 million pitcher Jack McDowell got from the Chicago White Sox in 1994 -- when he lost his case.
Settling Monday were San Diego right-handers Donne Wall ($2 million for two years) and Brian Boehringer ($830,000), Toronto right-hander John Frascatore ($1.85 million for two years), Padres outfielder Ruben Rivera ($700,000), Chicago Cubs left-hander Felix Heredia ($625,000), Cincinnati left-hander Gabe White ($630,000) and Milwaukee outfielder Mark Sweeney ($515,000).
San Francisco reliever Felix Rodriguez got a two-year contract extension. Cincinnati also got around to announcing a $1.6 million, one-year contract with left-hander Ron Villone, a deal agreed to before players filed for arbitration Friday.
Tampa Bay, seeking to bolster its pitching after trading Rolando Arrojo, agreed to a minor league contract with Burkett, who would get an $850,000 deal if he's added to the roster and the chance to make $2,175,000 more in performance bonuses.
Burkett, a 35-year-old right-hander, went 9-8 with a 5.62 ERA in 30 games for Texas last year, including 5-1 with a 3.51 ERA in his last seven outings.
In 10 seasons with the Rangers, San Francisco and Florida, Burkett has averaged 12 wins, 31 starts and 194 innings while going 119-101 with a 4.31 ERA.
Since the end of the season, the Devil Rays have acquired third baseman Vinny Castilla from Colorado and signed pitchers Juan Guzman ($12.5 million for two years) and Steve Trachsel ($1 million guaranteed), and outfielders Greg Vaughn ($34 million for four years) and Gerald Williams ($5.75 million for two years).
Catcher Tyler Houston, cut by Cleveland last month, agreed to a $835,000, one-year contract.
Houston, a 29-year-old left-handed hitter, batted .233 (58-for-249) with nine homers and 27 RBIs for the Chicago Cubs last season, then was obtained by Cleveland on Aug. 31 for minor league pitcher Richard Negrette.
After the deal, Houston hit .148 for the Indians (2-for-27) with one homer, three RBIs and 11 strikeouts.
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