Fred McGriff returned to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night,
ATLANTA (AP) _ Fred McGriff returned to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night, agreeing to a four-year contract.
Keeping McGriff with the Braves for their World Series title defense had been had been the No. 1 priority of general manager John Schuerholz after center fielder Marquis Grissom re-signed with Atlanta last month.
In an effort to keep its championship roster together, the Braves increased their $46.4 million payroll, giving Schuerholz room to barter for McGriff.
``It took a long time, but it wasn’t difficult,″ Schuerholz said, who declined to divulge the terms of the deal.
``I think it was a product of this new environment that is a reflection of the altered economic state of the industry. There’s a realization that there’s not as much money available in the the industry as a result of the strike. We didn’t sell as many tickets, we didn’t make as much money. We don’t have quite as much money to play with in our operating budget as we id before the strike hit.″
The power of McGriff’s bat has given the Braves’ offense a welcome boost.
The 32-year-old left-hander and three-time All Star hit .280 last season with 27 home runs and 93 RBIs. Possibly because of the strike-shortened season, he ended his string of seven consecutive seasons hitting 30 or more homers.
He has a .285 career batting average with 289 homers and 803 RBIs.
McGriff, who earned $4.25 million last season, filed for free agency in November after his five-year, $19 million contract expired. The New York Yankees had expressed interest, but did not say whether they intended to make an offer.
The Braves acquired McGriff on July 19, 1993, in a trade that sent three Atlanta minor league prospects to San Diego.
There are five more players who were on the Braves before they filed for free agency following the series: outfielders Mike Devereaux, Luis Polonia and Dwight Smith, catcher Charlie O’Brien and reliever Alejandro Pena. Schuerholz said he wouldn’t decide whether to try to re-sign them until after the Dec. 20 tender date.
``There’s not really anything big to do,″ he said. ``Just the normal re-signing of players and getting ready for salary arbitration.″