Saturday, October 23, 1999
McKeon angered by Reds' contract offer
One-year deal would be among leagues' lowest
BY JOHN FAY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Reds manager Jack McKeon returned home Friday to North Carolina without a contract and facing the fact that his days as Reds manager may be over.
It was basically "Take it or leave it,' Mr. McKeon said from his home in Elon College, N.C. That's pretty tough. Negotiations are supposed to be give and take. There was none of that.
Mr. McKeon said the Reds' offer was for one year and included less than a $50,000 raise over last year's salary. Mr. McKeon is believed to have made between $400,000 and $450,000 last year.
They take until the middle of October, McKeon said, then they hit me with this.
Reds managing executive John Allen, who is negotiating with Mr. McKeon, had no comment Friday.
Mr. McKeon would not rule out accepting the offer.
I can't answer that today, he said. I'm going to relax a few days. Ask me after that.
Even with the raise the Reds offered, Mr. McKeon still would have one of the lowest salaries for a major-league manager. According to the Rocky Mountain News, nine of the 24 managers under contract for 2000 will make at least $1 million. The average is more than $900,000.
Nine of the 24 under contract for 2000 will make $1 million or more. |
The average salary will be over $900,000.
New Yankees manager Joe Torre will be the top paid at $3 million, up from $1.3 million this season.
The last manager to sign, Colorado's Buddy Bell, will make $750,000 per season.
Kansas City's Tony Muser will be the lowest paid at $325,000.
Source: Rocky Mountain News
The last manager to sign Buddy Bell, with the Colorado Rockies got a three-year, $2.25 million contract. Phil Garner, hired by Detroit last week, will make $1.2 million.
I want what's fair, Mr. McKeon said. I've got more experience and wins than a lot of those guys.
Money was not the only issue, though.
When I started this, I said I wanted a two-year deal, he said. I guess they don't think I deserve it. We won 96 games this year.
Mr. McKeon, 68, has managed the Reds since taking over when Ray Knight was fired July 25, 1997. In that time, he's guided the team to a 196-182 record. The Reds went 96-66 in the 1999 regular season before losing a one-game playoff for the National League wild card.
Mr. McKeon came to Cincinnati on Thursday to meet with Mr. Allen, who gave him the Reds' offer. They met again Friday. Mr. McKeon said the offer was the same.
It was calm and cool, he said. We just didn't get anything solved.
But Mr. McKeon was angry the Reds waited so long to give him an offer than amounted to a 10 percent raise.
It's surprising and disappointing, he said. We could have done this in August when we started talking. They should have said, "Here's your figure.' Why wait until the middle of October to do it, if it's going to be this?
Negotiations were delayed until the ownership transition took place Oct.1. Then, Reds sources say, Mr. Allen had to wait to get a salary figure approved from Carl Lindner, the new principal owner. Former Reds President and CEO Marge Schott sold controlling interest in the club to a group headed by Mr. Lindner.
Mr. McKeon said he was not told what the delay was.
I have no idea, he said. I've heard everything it was (General Manager) Jim (Bowden), John, and the owner.
Coaches Ron Oester and Dave Collins said they planned on coming back with Mr. McKeon's staff. Neither has a contract for next season, but coaches usually are signed after the manager.
I talked to Jim right after the season, Mr. Oester said. I want to come back, and I think they want me. I would have gone with Buddy (Bell) to Colorado otherwise.
Mr. Collins also wants to stay.
I've had one conversation with them, he said. But I'm sure they have a lot of things going on. I understand why they would want to have the manager signed first.
Mr. Oester said he would consider taking the manager's job if Mr. McKeon didn't return.
I'd have to talk to Jim (Bowden) about it, he said. I do have an interest in managing, but only here. I'm from Cincinnati. If my kids were older, I might look at other jobs.
Said Mr. Collins: I'd consider it. Hopefully, it's not going to happen, and Jack will come back.
Coach Ken Griffey Sr., who is under contract, may be the leading candidate to become manager if Mr. McKeon leaves. Mr. Griffey could not be reached for comment Friday night.
Mr. Griffey interviewed for the Colorado job that went to Mr. Bell. He has also interviewed for the manager's job in Milwaukee.
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