The most significant and certainly the most interesting deal of the week was Rickey Henderson's move to the Yankees for reliever Jay Howell and four prospects. Henderson, he of the fast feet and weird crouch, signed a lucrative $8.5 million contract with a no-trade clause.
Why the deal took place is a bit complicated. The A's said they had to trade Henderson because they couldn't afford him. But there was more to it than that. Henderson had filed for arbitration three straight years, and when he lost last season and had to struggle along with a $950,000 salary, he let the decision affect his play. Quite simply, he dogged it at times, and of the 20 games he missed, probably half were for no apparent reason. According to teammate Steve McCatty, "One game he didn't play he spent the whole time in street clothes playing cards. When this guy takes a day off, he takes it literally."
There also may have been an off-the-field factor in the A's decision to trade Henderson, a hometown hero. He remains very close to his mother, who is very protective, and though the A's wouldn't talk about it, it's understood that they felt Henderson needed to get away from Oakland in order to produce at the superstar level on a consistent basis.
Asked whether the trade was necessary for Henderson to play up to his potential, Jim Turner, an associate of Henderson's agent, Richie Bry, responded with tongue lodged firmly in cheek, "I guess the only difference is that now his mother won't pack for him anymore."
If you're counting, the contract makes Henderson the game's fifth-highest-paid player, behind George Foster ($2.04 million per year), Dave Winfield ($2.02 million), Mike Schmidt ($1.91 million) and Gary Carter ($1.87 million).