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Irabu talks intensify

April 19, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ San Diego’s talks with the New York Yankees and New York Mets for the rights to pitcher Hideki Irabu intensified Saturday.

The Yankees are offering injured outfielder Ruben Rivera and minor-league right-hander Rafael Medina and about $2.5 million for the rights to Irabu, a source familiar with negotiations said on the condition he not be identified. San Diego also would send New York two minor-leaguers: outfielder Gordon Amerson and infielder Juan Mello.

The Mets are offering about $1.5 million in cash, the choice of pitchers Dave Mlicki or Mark Clark and a minor-leaguer. The Mets’ offer would be conditioned, at least in part, on their signing the 27-year-old right-hander.

It’s unclear if the Padres have said which offer they prefer.

``I have heard nothing,″ Mets general manager Joe McIvaine said.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, attempting to gain leverage in his talks with the Padres, has said his team may withdraw from the Irabu talks if it signs pitcher Rolando Arrojo, a Cuban defector who became a free agent when he gained Costa Rican residency earlier this year.

Irabu led Japan’s Pacific League in ERA the last two seasons. His team in Japan, the Chiba Lotte Marines, agreed in January to give San Diego exclusive rights to sign him.

But he has refused to deal with the Padres, saying he will sign only with the Yankees. His agent, Don Nomura, has said Irabu should be considered a free agent and has threatened to sue. In the meantime, Irabu has been working out in California and has said he may sign with an independent minor-league team.

The Japanese commissioner’s office said Irabu cannot make a deal with a team other than the Padres because it would violate a 1967 treaty between the major leagues and the Japanese leagues.

The Marines said Friday they intend to give the Padres permission to deal Irabu’s rights.

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