The window is closed. All the bids have been finalized.
Now all Bruce Hurst has to do is pull the trigger and announce which contract worth between $5.5 million and $6 million he will accept.There was a possibility that Hurst, the free-agent, lefthanded pitcher being wooed heavily by his former club, the Boston Red Sox, as well as the San Diego Padres and the California Angels, would announce his choice late Tuesday night.
But it was more likely that he would make the announcement Wednesday morning.
In any event, it seemed clear the sensitive Hurst just wanted to get what he views as a gut-wrenching, all-too-public ordeal over with, if only to stop the incessant ringing of the phone in his Wellesley, Mass., home.
"I didn't anticipate it would get this out of hand," said Hurst, 30, Tuesday morning. "It's not fair to me, it's not fair to the teams, to my family or even to you reporters."
Of course, Hurst is going to wind up well compensated for whatever inconvenience the steady stream of phone calls caused him.
Tuesday, Hurst and his agent, Nick Lampros, spoke with each club, and asked for each club's final offer before noon MST. The Boston brain trust of general Lou Gorman, minority owner Haywood Sullivan and John Harrington, the righthand man to team owner Jean Yawkey, held a two-hour conference call with Hurst and Lampros Tuesday afternoon.
Gorman wouldn't divulge the team's figure, but it reportedly calls for $5.5 million over three years, including incentives that could net him another $450,000 per year - $150,000 each for winning Cy Young, MVP honors and making the All-Star team.
"I feel better than I did (Monday), but you never know," said Gorman of the Sox' chances to retain Hurst.
"We made a substantial increase in our offer," said Gorman. "And we officially guaranteed the third year of the contract."
The Padres and Angels, meanwhile, are said to be in the same ballpark with their offers.
The bidding for the services of Hurst, who was 18-6 with a 3.66 earned-run average, escalated dramatically in the past two days.
Two days ago, the Sox and the Padres were the front-runners, with offers around the $5.1 million range for three years. Then the Angels came stampeding into the derby just when it appeared as if Hurst was ready to pick his team after agonizing between the loyalty he feels to the Red Sox and the pleasure of playing in an unpressurized, atmosphere in a beautiful part of the country.
The Angels, also pursuing free agent Nolan Ryan, vowed not to be outbid by any team for Hurst. California made it clear to Lampros that whatever the other teams bid, they would add $100,000 to it.
But the Angels, according to Lampros Tuesday night, made their final offer to Hurst on Monday night, and the agent hinted it wasn't the highest offer. Still, it's close.
One difference, though, may regard language in the contract proposals pertaining to a possible lockout or strike in 1990, after the Basic Agreement is out. Lampros indicated the Sox included language that would absolve the team of having to pay Hurst in the event of a lockout or strike.
Lampros said he tried to negotiate no-trade clauses with each of the three clubs, but wouldn't say whether he was successful. He also said that Hurst hasn't expressed any reservations to him about playing for the fiery Doug Rader in California if he were to choose the Angels.
The teams have been appealing to Hurst as best they can beyond the financial aspects of a contract. Gene Autry, the Singing Cowboy and owner of the Angels, has called Hurst to sing the praises of Anaheim, and Joan Kroc, owner of the Padres and the McDonald's hamburger empire, has done likewise, singing the praises of San Diego.> The Red Sox, meanwhile, had wanted to meet with Hurst face to face, likely so they could play upon Hurst's emotions and convince him to sign, the way Dallas Green is said to have convinced Rick Sutcliffe to re-sign with the Chicago Cubs after the Cubs' pennant-winning 1985 season.
But Hurst, apparently aware of the Sox' intent, elected not to agree to such a meeting.
Early Tuesday night, Hurst's phone was giving out a busy signal as Hurst, a 13-year veteran of the Red Sox organization and owner of an 88-73 career record,no doubt agonized further over his decision, not wanting any more distractions.
"I really don't think Bruce has made a decision," Lampros said Tuesday night. "Bruce genuinely is torn between all three clubs. But I feel the process is heading toward a conclusion."