Thursday, February 22, 2001

Reds Notebook

Williamson agrees to $400,000

By Chris Haft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SARASOTA, Fla. — The Reds' agreement with right-hander Scott Williamson on a one-year contract highlighted a business day in which financial concerns shifted from salary arbitration to the short- and long-term future.

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Scott Williamson throws at Sarasota.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        An industry source said Williamson received a $400,000 salary, a figure of some significance within the Reds' payroll structure. It matched the salaries first baseman Sean Casey and relief ace Danny Graves received in 2000, when both had played roughly two years in the major leagues. Williamson has completed two full seasons.

        Even with inflation taken into account, Williamson's deal suggested that management valued him almost as much, at least, as Casey and Graves, two other members of the team's young nucleus.

        Williamson, the 1999 National League Rookie of the Year, earned $300,000 last year and is being considered for a spot in the starting rotation, though he could move back to the bullpen.

        “The one thing Scott wanted was to be treated fairly,” said Williamson's agent, Brian Peters. “He's ready to do anything they want him to.”

        In other money matters, the Reds:

        • Resumed talks on a multiyear deal with Graves, who was accompanied by two of his agents.

        “We've been negotiating with Danny for about two years,” said general manager Jim Bowden, downplaying the meeting.

        • Won their salary arbitration case against right-hander Osvaldo Fer nandez, who will receive $600,000 this season. Fernandez had sought $1.2 million.

        • Signed, besides Williamson, utilityman Donnie Sadler and right-handers Keith Glauber and Leo Estrella, trimming the list of unsigned players to 15.

        Bowden also reiterated his intent to negotiate a multiyear contract extension with right-hander Pete Harnisch, who can become a free agent after the season.

        “But there's no urgency from the club's perspective,” Bowden said. “We've said all along that Pete's the ace of our staff. He's a very important person in the clubhouse and on the field. We'd like him to finish his career as a Red. That's not going to change. But you can't put a timetable on when that gets done.”

        ARBITRATION: The Reds did a little bit of everything with the 12 arbi tration-eligible players they had at the end of last season.

        They won two of the three cases that went to hearings, defeating Graves and Fernandez while losing to Casey. They compromised with three players who filed for arbitration (Dmitri Young, Pokey Reese and Scott Sullivan) and settled with two others before they could file (Alex Ochoa, Dennys Reyes).

        They traded three (Chris Stynes, Steve Parris and Ron Villone) and cast off one (Brian Hunter) after buying out the option year of his contract.

        “Every dollar is significant,” Bowden said. “Every dollar affects what kind of team you're going to have. That's why you try your hardest to sign players for the least amount possible so you can have a more competitive team.”

        :Outfielder Michael Tucker has been practicing at first base, where he played nine games for Boone with Kansas City in 1996. Boone wants Tucker to be prepared to play first in case of late-inning substitutions.

        • Boone felt pleased and relieved to see that his crowded workout schedule for the full squad proceeded without a hitch. “I was really nervous,” he said. “The guys I talked to got plenty of hitting in. A lot of times you get shorted on hitting.”

        • Boone said next week's events leading into Thursday's exhibition opener against Cleveland — Monday's intrasquad game and Wednesday's scrimmage against Rollins College — will be geared toward his younger players. He said another intrasquad or simulated game could be added Tuesday.


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