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Special Event

Mark McGwire Signs 2-Year, $30 Million Contract With Cardinals

Aired March 1, 2001 - 9:12 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now we want to take you live to Jupiter, Florida -- a news conference featuring the St. Louis Cardinals' Mark McGwire with a very special new contract. Let's go ahead and listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

MARK MCGWIRE, PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER: ... and it was basically a simple deal, so I don't think negotiations should be that difficult. Obviously, I could have tried the free-agent market, but there was just no other place to play in this game. So I'm very, very happy to be here, and I'm paid very well to do what I do.

QUESTION: How much, give and take were (OFF-MIKE) what you wanted to make?

MCGWIRE: Well, I mean, when I talked to Mr. Witt -- you guys might think it's weird, but I think it didn't take anything but 25 minutes to do the deal. So -- I mean, it's that simple. I mean, a guy in my position -- I mean, what do you need to do? You just talk about it -- I mean, he knows what I can do, everybody knows what I can do. And we thought, well, this was fair. That's what it came down to.

QUESTION: You probably could have gotten more money, but what is your reasoning for the figure that you (OFF-MIKE)?

MCGWIRE: I'm happy; I'm happy where I'm at; that's what the bottom line is. I mean, everybody knows that when you're in the top of game you're going to get paid millions of dollars. But I'm happy where I live, in St. Louis, I'm happy with the team, I'm happy with the front office, I'm happy with the travel. I'm happy with the potential of being on a competitive team every year with the ownership and the GM doing the things in the off-season, and in July to try to better the team to get to the play-offs.

What else can you ask? So that's how I based my decision.

QUESTION: Do you look at this as kind of a message to your fellow players (OFF-MIKE) a way to get this thing done to make (OFF- MIKE) $20 million area without, you know, going through this public battle?

MCGWIRE: You know, I just do things that I think is common sense. I mean, I -- what I just said before is those are the things I look at. I mean, we're going to get paid a lot of money. I mean, I was telling my son the other day that, you know, I'm going to sign this deal and I'm going to sign a 30-year extension so, basically, averaging 15 a year, and people are going to talk about how I'm going to be underpaid. I mean, that's pretty ridiculous; so he laughed and I laughed.

But, I mean, it's a lot of money. I hate talking about it and -- you know, I'm not out here trying to set precedents, I'm just doing what I think's right.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) how many teams might have bid for you and...

MCGWIRE: How many teams? You can't name the teams on your hand that's going to be able to afford.

QUESTION: Right but, Well -- I mean for two years is it possible that even some small (OFF-MIKE) just for two years (OFF-MIKE) chasing the record might say, it's a two-year thing. How many teams would do it, and for how much money if (OFF-MIKE) bigger-market teams if it was just the two-year deal?

MCGWIRE: Yes, but to me it doesn't mean -- I'm not going to go play somewhere because of that. I am so happy where I'm at. And I mean, you can't document it any better than that. I mean, I've heard people say, well, he'll probably go to American League in DA. No, I'm not. I'm going to stay here, and I'll be with the Cardinals as far as I can go as a baseball player, period. And you can't find a better organization and better fans in baseball.

QUESTION: You could, by stats and star power -- being the highest paid first baseman in baseball -- some of these guys now have in their contracts that they want to be (OFF-MIKE) in the highest paid position. How come that's not important to you?

MCGWIRE: Never has been. I mean, some guys believe in that. That's their own prerogative. They can do what they want to do, and I'm going to do what I want to do. I believe that I'm being paid very fairly, getting paid a lot of money to do what I do. And what I do is not easy; and what I deal with every day when I go on that field is not easy and not many players can deal with that.

So the players today, they're getting paid a lot of money right now are going to have to deal with a lot of scrutiny that they've never dealt with before. I've been there, I know what it's like. So I just choose to do what I'm doing right now.

KAGAN: Well there's a story in sports you don't hear too often these days -- that is the Cardinals Mark McGwire announcing that he's going to agree to a two-year extension with the St. Louis Cardinals. Quite simply, he's happy; a happy athlete, and he's decided not to test the free-agent market. Instead he called the owner of the team himself and they negotiated a two-year extension. It'll pay him about $30 million and, by baseball terms that might make him underpaid -- that will be giving him about $15 million a year. To put that in perspective, Alex Rodriguez, who recently signed a contract with the Texas Rangers will be making $25 million a year.

But Mark McGwire says he's happy; he likes what he does and he works for a good team in a great town -- end of story there. That live news conference from spring training with the Cardinals in Jupiter, Florida.

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