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CANSECO HITS $5 MILLION SALARY MARK

Jose Canseco and the Oakland Athletics raised the roof of baseball salaries, pushing the penthouse player onto the $5 million floor.

Baseball's payroll elevator continued upward when Canseco signed a five-year, $23.5 million contract, which included a $5.1 million salary for the 1995 season."Obviously this is a contract of major proportions and one that will get a great deal of notoriety and comment," Oakland general manager Sandy Alderson said Wednesday at the news conference announcing the signing.

The A's have now signed four players to contracts worth more than $3 million per season. Pitchers Dave Stewart and Dennis Eckersley and outfielder Rickey Henderson preceded Canseco onto the $3 million plateau.

"There are contracts that are of equal consequence to the rest of the major league baseball population that are signed by mediocre players in substantial excess to what they are probably worth as a member of a championship club," Alderson said. "What you have to recognize is that in the case of a Jose Canseco ... the trickle-down effect exists. But, in my opinion, it is not as great as the trickle-down effect that comes from contracts of players of far less ability."

There are few of equal ability to Canseco, the only player ever to combine 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases into a single season. Already in his 4 1/2-year career, Canseco has been voted the American League's Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player, and hit 148 home runs and driven in 474 runs.

"The new contract reflects his ability as a player and, in many respects, also reflects the dramatic change in the marketplace that has occured since December of last year," Alderson said.