- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 13, 2001

ST. LOUIS (AP) Mark McGwire's retirement creates a $30 million windfall in the St. Louis Cardinals' budget.
Now they have to decide how or if to spend it.
Among the options to replace McGwire, who retired Sunday after two frustrating, injury-plagued seasons, is a player who's done it successfully once before: Jason Giambi.
Giambi, who has admired McGwire since their days together in Oakland, replaced Big Mac on the Athletics in 1997 when McGwire was traded to St. Louis.
Giambi won the AL MVP last season and could win it again this season after hitting .342 with 38 homers and 120 RBIs. But he will be expensive.
The Cardinals will probably have to compete with Oakland and the big-spending New York Yankees to bring in Giambi. It might take as much as $20 million a year to sign Giambi. The Cardinals have $30 million to play with over two years.
McGwire, the former single-season home run king, announced his retirement now instead of closer to Opening Day to allow the Cardinals to find a replacement, like Giambi.
"I believe I owe it to the Cardinals and the fans of St. Louis to step aside, so a talented free agent can be brought in as the final piece of what I expect can be a world championship-caliber team," McGwire said in his statement Sunday.
Another possibility at first base is Tino Martinez, a free agent after winning four World Series titles in six years with the Yankees. The Cardinals also could move NL Rookie of the Year Albert Pujols to first base and sign an outfielder like Moises Alou.
On the other hand, the Cardinals might prefer keeping costs down a bit. The payroll was $74 million last year and projects to $80 million this year, with 22-game winner Matt Morris, among others, due for a large raise.
General manager Walt Jocketty said last week that he's trying to reduce the payroll to $70 million, which would leave next to nothing even with McGwire's departure.
McGwire, 38, batted just .187 in his final season with 29 homers and finished with 583 career homers, fifth on the all-time list. He was the single-season home run king for three seasons after hitting 70 in 1998, waging a season-long race with Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs.
"I got close to him when we shared the home run race," Sosa said in a statement. "He must have a good reason for his decision."


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide