Mark Langston, the biggest prize in this year's free agent sweepstakes, and the California Angels have reached agreement on a five-year, $16 million contract, The Associated Press learned Friday.
The deal makes the 29-year-old Langston baseball's highest-paid player, joining Kirby Puckett and Rickey Henderson - who signed last month - as $3 million-a-year players.Langston's five-year contract, which includes a no-trade clause, is the longest pact since Eddie Murray's five-year extension with the Orioles in September 1985. It is also the most guaranteed money ever, surpassing the minimum $13.6 million Dave Winfield was assured in his 10-year contract with the New York Yankees.
Langston, one of baseball's best left-handed pitchers, played for Seattle and Montreal last season. He went 4-5 with a 3.56 earned-run average for the Mariners and, after being traded for three young pitchers, was 12-9 with a 2.39 ERA for the Expos.
His new contract includes a $1.5 million signing bonus, payable on Jan. 15; a salary of $1.5 million for 1990; and salaries of $3.25 million in each of the next four years.
Angels owner Gene Autry said he would not be outspent in his pursuit of Langston, and he was not as the salary spiral again shot up. The Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and San Diego also got into the bidding, but Langston took California's offer.
"They made the offer late last night and we sort of agreed that it would be a deal," Arn Tellem, Langston's agent, said. "I told teams if you want to play, it has to be at least five years or I wouldn't even be interested in talking."
He said about 12 teams originally expressed interest, but then dropped out as the bidding went up.
Langston's signing left Cy Young winner Mark Davis as the premier free agent still available, and the Padres are working hard to keep him.