In a move that was important to their bid for a 1982 World Series championship, the Cardinals kept the pitcher they wanted at the price they wanted.
Forty years ago, on Nov. 13, 1981, Joaquin Andujar became a free agent after finishing the 1981 season with the Cardinals.
Though he preferred to stay with the Cardinals and they wanted him to return, a contract agreement was not a given.
The determining factor was salary, and, for a while, neither side was willing to compromise.
Acquired from the Astros in June 1981 for outfielder Tony Scott, Andujar was 6-1 with a 3.74 ERA for the Cardinals that season.
Andujar liked playing for manager Whitey Herzog and for pitching coach Hub Kittle, who mentored him in the Dominican Republic winter league, but he also wanted to test his worth on the open market.
Represented by brothers Alan and David Hendricks, Andujar sought a contract of $2 million for three years. The Cardinals offered $1 million for the same time frame, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Andujar figured he had leverage because the Cardinals needed another starter to bolster a rotation led by Bob Forsch and including the likes of John Martin and Andy Rincon.
Agent Alan Hendricks told the Post-Dispatch he “wanted to see Joaquin wind up with the Cardinals because Whitey Herzog and the club are good for him.”
Herzog’s assistant, Joe McDonald, said, “We’re still very keen on Andujar. We like the guy and he likes it here.”
Price isn’t right
The good vibes began to fade when neither Andujar nor the Cardinals budged on their salary number. The Sporting News reported Andujar “is likely to be gone” from the Cardinals.
Herzog told the Post-Dispatch he had a financial figure he was sticking with and “I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.”
Agent David Hendricks said six teams were interested in Andujar. It soon became evident to Herzog that the interest was tepid _ at least at the salary Andujar was seeking.
The Philadelphia Daily News accused Andujar of “harboring delusions of grandeur.”
According to the Oakland Tribune, Giants second baseman Joe Morgan, who was Andujar’s teammate with the 1980 Astros, lobbied for the Giants to sign Andujar, but it didn’t work out.
David Hendricks said the Cardinals remained Andujar’s first choice and “the ingredients are still right” for a signing with them.
According to the Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals could get a deal done with Andujar for $1.5 million, splitting the difference between what Andujar was asking and what the club was offering, but Herzog stuck to a lower number.
Herzog, who had the dual role of manager and general manager, sized up the soft competition for Andujar and said, “I’m not going up on my offer. Nobody is higher than us. If he doesn’t like it, he can sit in the Dominican for a year.”
A couple of days later, Herzog turned up the heat again. “His agents keep asking me to raise my offer,” he told the Post-Dispatch. “Why should I outbid myself? I’ve got the best offer out there.”
With his options dwindling, Andujar and his agents lowered their asking price.
On Dec. 30, 1981, Andujar signed with the Cardinals for $1.2 million over three years. According to the Post-Dispatch, the $1.2 million figure was the amount Herzog and the Cardinals were prepared to settle for all along.
The signing took place at Andujar’s home in the Dominican Republic. Attending for the Cardinals was assistant general manager Joe McDonald and scout Willie Calvino. In 1969, when he worked for the Reds, Calvino was the scout who signed Andujar to his first professional contract.
Andujar rewarded the Cardinals with 15 wins, including five shutouts, during the 1982 season. He was the winning pitcher in their pennant-clinching game against the Braves in the National League Championship Series. Then he earned two wins versus the Brewers in the World Series, including the title clincher in Game 7. Boxscore and Video
Though a 20-game winner in both 1984 and 1985, Andujar was traded to the Athletics after he had a confrontation with umpire Don Denkinger during Game 7 of the 1985 World Series.