Seven players filed for free agency on the final day, increasing the total to 136. David Cone and Darryl Strawberry of the World Series champion New York Yankees filed provisionally because Cone has not decided whether to exercise his $5.5 million player option and the team has not decided whether to exercise Strawberry's $2.5 million option.
Scott Brosius, their Yankees teammate, was said to be close to a three-year contract with New York for about $15 million. And the Boston Red Sox agreed to a new contract with outfielder Darren Lewis, although they didn't announce it.
Alou, traded from the Florida Marlins to Houston following the 1997 season, and Rogers, sent from the Yankees to Oakland, were dealt while under multiyear contracts and had the right to demand trades during the 15 days following the World Series.
Alou was due to get $5 million next year and $5.25 million in each of the following two seasons.
"I'm very pleased," Astrogeneral manager Gerry Hunsicker said. "This is an extremely important player to this franchise. It would have been devastating to lose him."
Alou, 32, had 182 hits, 38 homers, 124 RBI and 34 doubles in 1998.
"Obviously we weren't too far apart because we got it done," said his agent, Bob Gilhooly.
Rogers' agent, Scott Boras, was said to be working with the Oakland Athletics on putting together a trade for the left-hander, who rebounded to 16-8 record with a 3.17 ERA this year following two awful seasons in New York. The Cleveland Indians were said to be interested.
"He really wants to pursue a more competitive market and he wants to try to get a team that's closer to his home in Tampa," Boras said.
Chuck Knoblauch, sent from Minnesota to the Yankees last winter, was not contemplating filing a trade demand. There has been widespread speculation he has reached or is close to an agreement on an $18 million, two-year extension through 2003.
But the Yankees are not expected to announce it until after opening day, because not finalizing the deal until after the start of next season would save them $1,224,000 in luxury tax payments in 1999.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs re-signed free agent left-hander Terry Mulholland, agreeing to a $5.9 million, two-year contract.
Mulholland, a 35-year-old left-hander, was 6-5 with a 2.89 ERA this season in six starts and 64 relief appearances. Mulholland, who made $600,000 this season, gets a $750,000 signing bonus, $2.55 million in 1999 and $2.6 million in 2000.
Teams may begin making offers to all free agents starting Friday, but most players are expected to wait until next month to sign. Up until now, teams could only make offers to their former players who filed.
Five players filed Thursday in addition to Cone and Strawberry: Chicago White Sox pitcher Jim Abbott, Texas first baseman Will Clark, Toronto infielder Juan Samuel, San Francisco outfielder Joe Carter (who is retiring) and Giants shortstop Rey Sanchez.
Two players eligible for free agency did not file. Philadelphia outfielder Lenny Dykstra, who missed the last 2 1/2 seasons because of spinal stenosis, a congenital condition that narrows the opening where nerves go through the spinal canal, asked Thursday to be placed on the voluntary retired list.
Los Angeles pitcher Ramon Martinez also did not file. The Dodgers earlier declined his $5.6 million option and gave him a $600,000 buyout, expressing the desire to re-sign him at a lower price.
Cincinnati declined outfielder Melvin Nieves' $2 million option and opted to give the outfielder a $500,000 buyout and put him on unconditional release waivers. In addition, the Reds agreed to offer salary arbitration to pitcher Jason Bere.
Nieves, 26, hit .252 with two homers and 17 RBI in 83 games. He began the season on the disabled list while recovering from hernia surgery in January and ended the season on the disabled list after surgery on his right shoulder.
Bere's contract said he would become eligible for free agency unless the team agreed by Nov. 10 to offer salary arbitration. Bere, a 27-year-old right-hander, went 6-9 with a 5.65 ERA this season in 22 starts and five relief appearances for the Chicago White Sox and the Reds. Cincinnati claimed him on waivers on July 21 and he went 3-2 with a 4.12 ERA in seven starts and two relief appearances.
Cleveland pitcher Dave Burba agreed to a $9.5 million, two-year contract extension through 2001.
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