SI Vault
Steve Wulf
December 22, 1980
A surprising amount of talent—58 players in all—got shuffled around, especially by the Cards, at baseball's annual winter meetings in Dallas
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December 22, 1980

Big Wheels Make Big Deals In Big D

A surprising amount of talent—58 players in all—got shuffled around, especially by the Cards, at baseball's annual winter meetings in Dallas

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At about 2:30 Kapstein called back and said he had received the telegram and would set up a conference call with the Dodgers, himself, Lynn and Lynn's wife, Dede. With everyone on the line 25 minutes later, Kapstein asked for a one-year contract at an undetermined price, and the Dodgers countered with five years for a reported $5 million. The Dodgers asked Kapstein to call back with another proposal. At this point the Dodgers were very grateful the hotel had all-night room service, having gone through several helpings of frozen yogurt and fruit and a dozen sandwiches. Kapstein was on the line again at 4 a.m. with the same one-year offer. Lynn didn't mind L.A.; he just wanted to keep his options open for a future free-agent plunge. Campanis said no change, no deal, and at 4:20 the Dodgers told Sullivan the trade was off.

Yankee owner George Steinbrenner had a go at Lynn later in the week. In one variation, New York envisioned an outfield of Lynn, Reggie Jackson and the then-unsigned free agent, Dave Winfield. New York was offering Boston Guidry, who will also become a free agent next October, and either of two outfielders, Ruppert Jones or Bobby Brown. In a second attempt, the Yankees offered Jackson for Lynn straight up. The Mets, too, made an offer, but they literally and figuratively were out of their league.

Agents helped make trades, too. Harcourt talked his client Reitz into going to Chicago, although it took $150,000 from the Cubs to persuade Reitz to waive his no-trade clause. Harcourt also tried to get $1 million for Simmons in exchange for Simmons' 10-and-5 waiver, but settled for about 250 grand less. Dalton said making the deal with the Cardinals was a lot easier than making it with Harcourt. "He's the slowest talker I've ever met," said Dalton.

"The owners are learning to live with free agency," said Harcourt, a former junior college business teacher from Cerritos, Calif. "I'm not here to kill deals. I'm here to make everybody happy."

"Many clubs are willing to move quality ballplayers and complicated contracts," said Sullivan. "But there's another reason for all the deals. It's this hotel. Everyone can find each other. It's great for baseball people and media people, too. I wish I had the notebook concession."

There was other activity as well. Houston set a record for free-agent extravagance by giving utility man Dave Roberts a five-year, $1.1 million contract. The Giants fired their manager, Dave Bristol, while the managers' luncheon was going on. No wonder he didn't show. San Francisco owner Bob Lurie issued a short statement citing "philosophical differences" as the reason for the dismissal. Philadelphia Manager Dallas Green read that and said, "Philosophical differences. Hell, that would have gotten me fired a long time ago." Bristol was back in the hotel lobby the next day, joining hundreds of other job-seekers. Texas General Manager Eddie Robinson, who used to work for the Braves, said to Bristol, "When I hired you in Atlanta, I said you were a fiery manager. Well, you sure do get fired a lot." Last week made four times.

The Indians acquired malcontented Pitcher Bert Blyleven and contented Catcher Manny Sanguillen from the Pirates for Catcher Gary Alexander and Pitchers Bob Owchinko, Victor Cruz and Rafael Vasquez. It was the third winter session in a row at which Vasquez had been traded. The major disappointment of the week was that Bobby Bonds wasn't traded. It just wasn't in the cards.

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