No arbitration for Pudge

ARLINGTON, Texas, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- The deadline for arranging possible contract terms with players for 2003 came and went Saturday with no deal for veteran catcher Ivan Rodriguez of Texas.

Rodriguez, 31, captured the 1999 MVP Award, and spent his entire 12-year major league career with the Rangers. The 10-time All-Star and winner of 10 Gold Glove Awards is a career .305 hitter with 215 homers and 829 RBI in 1,479 games.


In the 90's, he was one of the game's most durable backstops, but has been besieged by injuries since his MVP season in 1998. He has not played more than 111 games in any of the last three seasons, and while his production remained well above the norm for a catcher, Texas was leery of locking him up to a long-term contract.

Overall, he has missed 176 games in the last three seasons after missing 153 the previous nine years.

In 2002, he hit .314 with 19 home runs and 60 RBI in 108 games.

"I wish baseball's economic system, including the arbitration process, did not force this decision at this time and in this way," said Rangers owner Tom Hicks. "Given our plan for the Rangers in 2003 and down the road, and with the Dec. 7 deadline, this situation could play out in no other manner. This was a very tough decision and certainly one that will be painful for the fans. It's hard for me to imagine Pudge Rodriguez in a uniform other than the Texas Rangers."


The Dallas Morning News reported that Rogers had the option of staying with the team under a multi-year contract. He rejected a proposal of two seasons at about $10.5 million with a third year that would have become guaranteed if he pitched a specified number of innings.

The paper said a very upset Rodriguez made his feelings known to reporters in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, where he was attending a charity golf tournament.

"What the Rangers did in the last few days is not fair," Rodriguez said. "What's been written about me is not fair, but that doesn't matter. I'm going on to work in another city."

"I called Pudge to wish him and his family the very best and to thank him for what he has meant to this franchise," Hicks said. "Maybe at some point in the future, our paths will again cross."

The Rangers also announced they did not offer an new contract pitcher Kenny Rogers or offer arbitration to outfielder Todd Hollandsworth.

The 1996 National League Rookie of the Year, who split last season between Colorado and Texas, hit a combined .284 last season with 16 homers and 67 RBI in 134 games.


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