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Reds Cut Payroll By Trading Wells

December 26, 1995

CINCINNATI (AP) _ The Cincinnati Reds lopped roughly $3 million off their 1996 payroll Tuesday by trading pitcher David Wells to Baltimore, and need to make one more trade to hit their spending target.

The Reds sent Wells, who will make $3 million next season, to the Orioles for outfielder Curtis Goodwin and minor-leaguer Trovin Valdez. Goodwin will have a chance to make the team next spring, but isn’t counted upon. Valdez is a minor-league outfielder.

Cincinnati has made several moves to reduce its payroll, which was one of the biggest in the major leagues last season. The Reds now have $33.3 million committed to a core of 14 players.

General manager Jim Bowden said he has to make one more payroll-reducing trade to hit the salary target set by owner Marge Schott. He declined to give the figure.

``We are now just one trade away from getting to that level,″ Bowden said. ``We’d prefer not to touch our starting pitching if we can help it.″

The Reds got Wells from Detroit on July 31 for left-hander C.J. Nitkowski, minor-league pitcher Dave Tuttle and a player to be named later. Infielder Mark Lewis went to the Tigers after the season to complete the trade.

Wells went 6-5 in 11 starts for the Reds with a 3.59 earned run average. Overall, he was 16-8 with a 3.24 ERA for the Reds and Tigers.

Schott’s decision to reduce the payroll has prompted Bowden to release outfielder Darren Lewis, come up short in efforts to keep home-run leader Ron Gant, and get rid of Wells, one of the team’s three left-handed starters.

The Reds still have an expensive starting rotation: John Smiley ($4.6 million), Mark Portugal ($4 million), Pete Schourek ($3.3 million) and Dave Burba ($1.1 million). Jose Rijo, who is coming off reconstructive elbow surgery, is guaranteed $5.5 million, but the club could collect insurance if he’s unable to pitch.

``If we trade one of the four, we would not be able to compete with Houston and St. Louis (in the NL Central) unless we’re able to make a trade and get a good young starter back,″ Bowden said.

There’s no timetable for the next deal.

``The deal can be made this month, it can be made in January, for that matter it can be made in June,″ he said.

Goodwin, 23, led the Carolina League with 61 stolen bases in 1993 and led the Eastern League with 59 steals in 1994. He made an impact after the Orioles called him up June 2 last year, batting .263 in 87 games with one homer, 24 RBIs and 22 steals in 26 attempts.

The Reds aren’t counting on Goodwin for next season, but he’ll have a chance to win the center field job. Thomas Howard is the incumbent and minor-leaguer Steve Gibralter is expected to challenge for a backup spot.

``Curtis is an ignitor, a catalyst, a leadoff-type player,″ Bowden said. ``We project that he can hit .280 to .300 (eventually) and steal 50 to 70 bases a year.″

Valdez, 22, batted .245 and had 34 steals in 55 attempts last season with Class A Frederick.

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