Baseball's hot stove boiled over Friday, with nearly 50 deals that put Terry Pendleton, Jim Gott and Bud Black in new places and the hint of other major moves involving Randy Johnson, Larry Walker and John Burkett.
Faced with two midnight EST deadlines tied to salary arbitration, teams scrambled to settle contracts.Mark Grace, Bob Welch and Luis Gonzalez got new contracts, albeit at slashed salaries. But Orel Hershiser, John Kruk, Mickey Tettleton and Bobby Witt were among those let loose.
The activity came on the day all major leaguers were supposed to start spring training. Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Canseco and Fernando Valenzuela checked into camp.
"Come April 26, I'll hustle. I don't plan on exerting myself out here and committing suicide in three weeks," Bonds said.
Dave Stewart, Chris Sabo and Howard Johnson also arrived at a special site in Homestead, Fla., set up for free agents.
The AL and NL also released their schedules, revised after the start of the season was delayed by the strike. Opening day is April 25 when Los Angeles plays at Florida.
Pendleton will start the year with the Florida Marlins. The former NL MVP, who made $3.2 million last season with the Atlanta Braves, got a $1.5 million, one-year deal as a free agent.
Black, 37, signed with Cleveland for $350,000, a year after he got $3 million in going 4-2 with a 4.47 ERA in an injury-interrupted season with San Francisco. Gott, 35, wound up in Pittsburgh after struggling last year with Los Angeles.
Pat Borders, meanwhile, moved from Toronto to Kansas City. The MVP of the 1992 World Series, who made $2.5 million last season with the Blue Jays, got a deal for only $310,000 with the Royals. Welch re-signed with the Oakland Athletics for just $225,000 after making $2.9 million last year.
Grace, a .303 hitter in seven seasons with the Chicago Cubs, agreed to re-sign with them. He got a one-year contract for $4.05 million, down from his $4.4 million last season.
Burkett, traded by San Francisco to Texas for two minor leaguers last December, was free after the Rangers declined to offer him a contract. He won 67 games in the last five years with the Giants, and could wind up signing a multiyear deal with the Marlins.
Bernard Gilkey, the starting left fielder for St. Louis for the last three years, was not offered a contract by the Cardinals, and neither was Witt, a starter for the A's. As expected, the Dodgers let go Hershiser, Philadelphia parted with Kruk and Detroit did not keep Tettleton.
Among other free agents re-signing with their teams were Kirk Gibson (Detroit), Mark Lemke (Atlanta), Kenny Rogers (Texas), Kirk McCaskill (White Sox), Trevor Wilson (San Francisco) and B.J. Surhoff (Milwaukee).
Friday was the last day for clubs to offer salary arbitration to their former players who became free agents, or they lose rights to negotiate until May 15.
It also was the date to offer contracts to salary arbitration-eligible players. Teams told many players to sign now or face release.
In moves that were brewing, the Colorado Rockies were closing in on free agents Larry Walker and Bill Swift. Also, the Seattle Mariners were said to be shopping pitcher Randy Johnson, with the New York Yankees possibly in the chase for the ace.