Cubs’ Grace Files for Free Agency
CHICAGO (AP) _ Mark Grace filed for free agency Monday, perhaps signaling the end of his 15-year run in the Cubs’ organization _ the last 13 seasons as the team’s first baseman.
Toward the end of the season, Cubs president and general manager Andy MacPhail indicated he was looking for more pop from a traditional power slot. A career .308 hitter and four-time Gold Glove winner, Grace has averaged 11 homers and 77 RBIs a season.
In the Cubs’ final home game, Grace was given a standing ovation from the crowd of 22,916 before his first at-bat in the first inning and again before his last at-bat in the eighth.
Grace, who made $5.3 million this year, said he thought he had a 50-50 chance of remaining with the Cubs and that the decision was up to MacPhail. Manager Don Baylor said he would like to have him back.
Grace is a three-time NL All-Star. No player had more hits or singles in the 1990s than Grace. During 1999, he was selected by fans to the Cubs’ All-Century Team.
Grace, who hit .280 in 2000 with 11 homers and 82 RBIs, was selected in the 24th round of the 1985 draft. He began his career with the Cubs’ Class A Peoria Chiefs and made his Cubs debut in 1988, helping them to the playoffs the next year by hitting .314. He batted .647 against the San Francisco Giants in the 1989 NL Championship Series, which Chicago lost.
Chicago White Sox shortstop Jose Valentin also filed for free agency Monday. He was solid offensively last season, hitting .273, with 25 homers and 92 RBIs.