If money really does talk, the Cubs are doing some serious talking about improving their pitching staff.
Chicago committed $5.9 million Monday when it agreed to contracts with new-look free agent Dave Smith and left-handed reliever Paul Assenmacher.Smith, a right-handed reliever and a two-time National League All-Star, agreed to a two-year, $4.9 million deal with a club option for 1993.
Assenmacher will make $1 million in 1991, a $525,000 raise, and has the opportunity to earn more in incentive bonuses. He is the first salary arbitration-eligible player in the majors to sign since the end of the season.
Smith, 35, has spent his 11-season big league career with the Houston Astros. He has 53-47 record with 199 saves and a 2.53 ERA in 563 games.
"We've talked about stabilizing our late-relief situation many times in the last couple of months," said Jim Frey, the Cubs' executive vice president of baseball operations. "We needed a right-handed reliever to finish off games.
"Dave Smith is the type of player who has been very consistent over the years," Frey said. "His numbers and his record show consistency and a high level of performance. He should add the stability we've been looking for."
Smith will receive a $1 million signing bonus, a 1991 salary of $1.4 million and a 1992 salary of $2 million. For 1993, the club has the option at $2.4 million or must pay a $500,000 buyout.
Smith was 6-6 last season with 23 saves and a 2.39 ERA in 49 games for the Astros. In 60 1-3 innings, he allowed 45 hits, 16 earned runs and 20 walks with 50 strikeouts.
Smith tied for fourth in the league in saves and was seventh in games finished . After the year, the Astros had exercised a 1991 option at $1.1 million, but Smith became a new-look free agent Dec. 7 as part of the collusion settlement between the 26 clubs and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Assenmacher, 30, was 7-2 last season with a 2.81 ERA and 10 saves in 74 appearances. He came to the Cubs in 1989 from the Atlanta Braves.
To make room for Smith on the 40-man roster, right-hander Randy Kramer was placed on waivers to give him his unconditional release.
The Cubs signed left-handed starter Danny Jackson, another free agent, on Nov. 21 for $10.5 million over four years.