For the second straight season, the New York Yankees went to the National League to fill a hole, taking second baseman Steve Sax from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Sax agreed to a three-year contract Wednesday for $4 million. Sax will get a $500,000 signing bonus, $1.1 million in 1989, $900,000 in 1990 and $1.5 million in 1991. In addition, Sax has a no-trade provision in 1989 and can veto trades to 14 teams in 1990 and 1991. He will get an additional $100,000 if he is traded.Sax said he was frustrated with the attitude taken in negotiations by Dodgers general manager Fred Claire.
"He sat three feet away from me and said: `If you think you can get a better deal somewhere else, I advise you to take it,"' Sax said in recalling a Nov. 4 meeting. "So I took his advice.
"There was a great difference in the negotiations as far as tone between (Yankees GM) Bob Quinn and Fred Claire. The Yankees treated me as someone they greatly respected," Sax said by telephone Wednesday night from San Diego.
As for Claire, "I felt he was aloof. I felt the tone of voice in which he spoke with me and looked at me really turned me off."
The Dodgers' last offer to Sax was $3.5 million - a $200,000 bonus, $1 million in 1989, $1.1 million in 1990 and $1.2 million in 1991. The last proposal from Sax to the Dodgers was for a three-year contract for $3.9 million. The Dodgers didn't respond.
"We certainly did make a number of efforts," Claire said from Los Angeles. "At the time we had a chance to meet with Steve face to face, we told him of our desire to sign him. I always thought highly of Steve, and tried to make that point as far as his importance to our ballclub."
Sax, a career .282 hitter, batted .277 with a career-high 57 runs batted in this season and 42 stolen bases. He is 28, six years younger than Willie Randolph, the Yankees' second baseman for 13 years.