? Philadelphia wanted Cub Second Baseman Manny Trillo. At one point, Chicago agreed to trade Trillo as part of a five-or six-player deal. The Phillies then withdrew Outfielder Jerry Martin from the package, replacing him with Bake McBride. The deal was rejected by the Cubs because McBride's option year is 1979 and the Cubs didn't think they could sign him. McBride would therefore become a free agent next fall, and the Cubs would be short both a second baseman and an outfielder.
? Baltimore went to Orlando looking for an outfielder. As trade bait the Orioles offered 16-game-winner Dennis Martinez. Cincinnati countered with Griffey. As desirable as Griffey, a .309 lifetime hitter, might seem to be, Baltimore refused. "He's got only one year left on his contract," says the Orioles' Hank Peters. "And after 1979 he'll be a six-year man."
? St. Louis General Manager John Claiborne bypassed a four-player deal that would have helped the Cardinals' struggling offense. "One of my players who would have been involved in the trade is a three-year man," he said, "the other is in his second big league season. Both of the other team's players are in the last year of their contracts and both are six-year players. We would have had the players for one season, whereas they would have gotten three and four seasons out of our players."
? Minnesota owner Calvin Griffith, forced to trade Rod Carew to avoid losing him as a free agent after next season, was frustrated when Carew vetoed a trade with the Giants that would have benefited the Twins. Griffith subsequently sent the seven-time batting champion to California for an outfielder who hit .223 last season, a pitcher who was 6-10 and two minor-leaguers. "It would be better to turn the clubs over to the players, give the owners salaries and let the players cut up what's left among themselves after the season," says Griffith.
Most owners can sympathize with Griffith's frustrations. As bitterly as they may feel about their loss of power, however, they do not all blame Players Association Director Marvin Miller or the players for the turnabout. Many owners point the accusing finger at themselves.
"Miller did a heck of a job for the players," says Cleveland President Gabe Paul. "We simply were overmatched." San Francisco General Manager Spec Richardson adds, "The owners and GMs created this problem themselves. We'd be breaking the law if we agreed among ourselves to set maximum contract figures, but even if we could agree, somebody would fudge."
Lacking both self-restraint and the freedom to trade as they please, owners are now casting hopeful eyes on a new Basic Agreement, which must be negotiated before the start of the 1980 season. Management's main concern is the compensation received by teams that lose free agents. A club now gets a choice in the amateur draft from the team that signs its player. Says Baltimore's Peters, "Whether I lose a Reggie Jackson or a Royle Stillman, I get the same compensation. Now tell me, is that right?"
Miller says, "If baseball attempts to unravel the whole agreement because of one thing like compensation, it won't work. We will negotiate because the 1976 agreement requires us to, but it's been proven in football that equal compensation means lack of movement."
That does not bode well for the owners, because when Miller has sat down to negotiate in recent years, he has almost invariably come away the winner. He is unlikely to give more than an inch—if that much—on compensation. That means free agents will still be marketable and, as a result, trades will remain hard to make. In light of this, it was fitting that Pete Rose chose to announce his signing with the Phillies at the Orlando meetings. The days of hot-stove deals may be over, but cold-cash signings are here to stay.