The Minnesota Twins exercised their $3.5 million option on ace Brad Radke on Friday and also said good-bye to Marty Cordova, whose career has nose-dived after earning AL Rookie of the Year honors in 1995.
Cordova and infielder Brent Gates chose to become free agents rather than accept outright assignments to Triple-A Salt Lake City.
The Twins had twice placed Cordova waivers this season but no team was willing to take on his salary of $3 million this season and $4 million next year.
Radke, 26, was 12-14 with a 3.75 ERA for the Twins, who were ordered by owner Carl Pohlad to slash payroll to $16.8 million this season and finished last in the American League.
Pohlad agreed Thursday to sell the team to sports investors Glen Taylor and Robert Naegele Jr. for $120 million, contingent on a new outdoor stadium in St. Paul being approved by voters and lawmakers.
The Twins could have declined Radke's 2000 option and paid a $300,000 buyout. But he is one of precious few stars on a team that played 18 rookies this year.
Radke agreed in March 1997 to a $4.3 million, three-year contract, including the buyout. Friday's move makes it a $7.5 million, four-year deal.
Radke, who was third in the AL with just 1.8 walks per nine innings, had four complete games, walked 44 and struck out 121 in 33 starts for the Twins. He led the staff in wins and innings pitched (218 1-3) and he had the fourth-best ERA in the American League.
Radke is 44-38 over the last three seasons with a 3.96 ERA, 13 complete games, 135 walks and 441 strikeouts in 100 games.
Cordova, 30, hit .285 with 14 homers and 70 RBIs in 124 games this season.
After hitting .277 with 24 homers, 84 RBIs and 20 stolen bases as a rookie, Cordova hit .309 with 16 homers and 111 RBIs in 1996 and appeared headed for stardom.
But a foot injury plagued him during 1997 and '98, when he hit .246 with 15 homers and 51 RBIs and .253 with 10 homers and 69 RBIs, respectively.
Gates, 29, batted .255 with three homers and 38 RBIs this season. He signed as a free agent before the 1998 season and had six homers and 80 RBIs in two years.
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