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ATLANTA: Juan Bell.

December 4, 1988

Undated (AP) _ The Dodgers, the busiest team last off-season, began talking to Baltimore about Murray shortly after winning the World Series and team executives met last week in Chicago to discuss the deal. On Friday, the clubs came close to finishing the trade but backed off, possibly because of financial terms in Murray’s contract.

Murray will be paid $2 million next season, $2.2 million in 1990 and $2.3 million in 1991. For each of the next three years, an additional $525,000 will be deferred. Murray will receive deferred payments starting in 1992 in 20 annual installments of $135,000.

Murray, who will be 33 next season, fills the Dodgers’ need for a hard- hitting first baseman. Franklin Stubbs, Mickey Hatcher and Mike Davis played the position last year, and none delivered the numbers the Dodgers expect from Murray.

Murray batted .284 with 28 home runs and 84 runs batted in last year. He is a lifetime .295 hitter with 333 homers and 1,190 RBI.

Because Murray has spent all 12 big-league seasons with Baltimore, he needed to give his approval. Murray was born and raised in Los Angeles and had wanted to play for the Dodgers.

Murray asked for a trade 2 1/2 years ago when the Orioles began to go downhill. They won the World Series in 1983 but have finished last in the American League East for the past two seasons.

The Dodgers had expressed interest in Murray last year. Los Angeles knew it needed a solid first baseman and had also inquired loosely about Jack Clark and Joe Carter.

Baltimore is in need of most everything, particularly pitching. The Orioles a 4.54 earned-run average, the worst in the majors.

Holton, 29, was exceptional in middle relief for the Dodgers. The right- hander was 7-3 and a 1.70 ERA in 45 games.

Howell, 28, has been used mostly in middle relief throughout his major league career. A right-hander, he went 10-1 for Class AAA Albuquerque last season and was 0-1 with a 6.39 ERA for the Dodgers.

Bell, 20, is the younger brother of Toronto star George Bell. Juan, another shortstop from San Pedro de Marcoris in the Dominican Republic, played in Double-A and Triple-A last year. He batted .300 in 73 games at Albuquerque with 45 RBI.

Bell is expected to become Baltimore’s starting shortstop, which will move Cal Ripken Jr. to third base. The Orioles had planned to eventually move Ripken to third in order to reduce daily wear-and-tear.

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