The Associated Press
12/11/99 4:13 AM
TORONTO (AP) -- Carlos Delgado felt like a free agent.
The power-hitting first baseman agreed to a $36 million, three-year contract extension with the Toronto Blue Jays. But the team gave him the right to demand a trade after next season.
"This is pretty awesome from the business side," Delgado said. "I love the city, the money is right, the terms are right and the length is right. In three years, I'm a free agent again."
Delgado's average annual salary of $12 million ties New York Yankees pitcher David Cone for the 10th-highest in baseball.
After making $5,075,000 last season, he gets a $3 million signing bonus, $5.6 million next year, $12.65 million in 2001 and $14.75 million in 2002.
The key was a unique provision agent David Sloane negotiated with the Blue Jays. Delgado could demand a trade in the 10 days following next year's World Series, and the Blue Jays would be forced to deal him by Feb. 15, 2001. If they don't deal him by then, he would have the right to either become a free agent or remain with the team.
In addition, he has a full no-trade clause, which means he can pick which team he would accept a trade to.
"We were able to work a deal out where I was happy, not so much with the money but with some of the clauses that are in the contract," Delgado said. "At the end of season, we were talking about a long-term contract but I had a few concerns."
Delgado, who hit .272 with 44 homers and 134 RBIs last season, mentioned Toronto's uncertain ownership situation, manager Jim Fregosi's decision to fire five coaches the player liked, and the trade of Shawn Green to Los Angeles as his concerns.
Sloane said the changing market also was a reason for the clauses.
"He has the opportunity to see what happens with the salaries this year and see how much they go up, and how much he's giving up in order to remain here," Sloane said.
Delgado, who would have been eligible for free agency after next season, is a career .267 hitter with 149 home runs and 467 RBIs, and is the franchise leader with a .531 slugging percentage. Delgado also is a leader in the clubhouse and popular with fans.
The Blue Jays traded Green and former Cy Young winner Pat Hentgen last month, and did not like the prospect of Delgado walking away after next season.
"I received a lot of letters and e-mails from fans asking me to re-sign Carlos," Ash said. "This deal is pivotal for us. We didn't want to see Carlos leave us as a free agent and the club get nothing in return.
"This allows us to explore the marketplace and get something in return should he wish to trigger that clause."
Delgado said he hopes he won't have to use the clause, and Sloane said he would be surprised if he did.
Both sides agreed to the three-year deal after failing to agree on a five-year contract. Toronto offered $60 million for five years, Delgado asked for $67.5 million.
"I got security and, in three years, I'll be 30. I'll still be in my prime and I'll get to do another contract," Delgado said. "If at the end of the season something needs to be addressed, we'll address it.
"I'm not going to jump the gun and say, well in September things are going to be bad. And I don't see a reason why things are going to be bad with Fregosi."
The Blue Jays discussed trading Delgado after contracts talks stalled, but demand for Delgado on baseball's trade market was lukewarm, with four teams believed to have expressed interest.
Clubs were reluctant to trade quality players to Toronto and then sign Delgado to a huge contract.