|Friday, November 8
Neagle's big contract still problem for Rockies
"They need payroll flexibility, and I want to go to a place where I am more appreciated,'' Neagle said Thursday. "I know that I haven't lived up to my end of the bargain. But honestly, it hasn't worked out here for either of us, and it would be best for both parties if this marriage ended.''
Neagle said he would consider restructuring his contract through deferrals, if he gets sent to a desirable location. He prefers Chicago, New York or a city on the West Coast. The left-hander twice vetoed trades to the Detroit Tigers last summer.
Neagle, 34, has $37.5 million remaining on his contract, including $9 million in 2003.
The Rockies have tried to move Neagle for 11 months, but his big contract and performance have stifled offers.
Neagle signed a five-year, $51.5 million deal in December 2000, then turned in a 17-19 record with a 5.32 ERA.
He was demoted to the bullpen for seven weeks last season before returning after John Thomson was traded July 31 to the New York Mets. He rediscovered his changeup and was among the best pitchers in the National League for a month, until a left elbow injury set in.
Neagle said he had a small bone chip and some floating pieces removed during surgery a month ago and has resumed offseason workouts.
Trading Neagle or Mike Hampton, the other well-paid, under-performing starting pitcher the Rockies signed in 2000, would give the club much-needed payroll relief.
The Rockies are holding contracts for $40.5 million on five players with a payroll that is expected to cap around $51 million.
With no takers for Hampton or Neagle, the Rockies have held preliminary talks with Arizona about right fielder Larry Walker.
"I don't think that's something that can be blamed on me and Mike. Larry's name has been out there in trade rumors for the past couple of years,'' Neagle said.