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AFTER THE FREE-FOR-ALL WAS OVER
Larry Keith
December 13, 1976
Following weeks of rough-and-tumble bargaining, the Yankees, who signed Reggie Jackson and Don Gullett, and the Angels, who spent plenty for Joe Rudi, Don Baylor and Bobby Grich, were tops in the reentry draft
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December 13, 1976

After The Free-for-all Was Over

Following weeks of rough-and-tumble bargaining, the Yankees, who signed Reggie Jackson and Don Gullett, and the Angels, who spent plenty for Joe Rudi, Don Baylor and Bobby Grich, were tops in the reentry draft

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In the National League East, Second Baseman Dave Cash moved from the top of the standings in Philadelphia to the bottom in Montreal, a switch that will hurt the Phillies more than it will help the Expos. Montreal could have significantly strengthened itself if the $20,000 Owner Charles Bronfman invested in romancing Jackson had paid off. It didn't, although the Expos' final offer reportedly was about $1 million more than the contract Jackson signed with New York.

The Phillies will use either bench warmer Terry Harmon or Fred Andrews, a minor-leaguer, at second. Neither will match Cash in hitting, fielding or leadership. The Phils also lost First Baseman Dick Allen—though willingly and without regrets.

The departures of Cash and Allen might have made Philadelphia vulnerable to a challenge from Pittsburgh. But Richie Hebner, the most important free agent still unsigned, probably will not return to the Pirates. That means the Bucs must find a third baseman. Worse, they also must come up with a catcher to replace three-time All-Star Manny Sanguillen, who was lost in the absurd deal that sent him—plus $100,000—to Oakland in a trade for Manager Chuck Tanner.

Despite pressing needs, the East's other teams—the Mets, Cubs and Cardinals—did not seriously pursue free agents. "Mercenaries don't win wars," explained Chicago GM Bob Kennedy. Neither do conscientious objectors.

The Cubs and every other team will have another chance next year. Kapstein, who represented 10 of the best in this year's free-agent class, believes there will be more players available, though perhaps not as many stars. In the meantime, there will continue to be doomsday predictions of five to six franchises folding, of part-time players wanting $200,000 salaries, of vast player migrations. More consoling is General Manager Phil Seghi of Cleveland, who says that despite the "player quake," baseball will get "bigger, better and stronger."

And, it should be added, more fun to follow in the off-season.

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