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Mets' Cone wins $4.25-million deal in arbitration

New York Mets right-hander David Cone was awarded a record $4.25-million in arbitration Tuesday as Texas outfielder Ruben Sierra prepared to argue his case for $5-million.

Arbitrator Nicholas Zumas, who heard arguments for 5{ hours Monday, picked Cone's figure over the Mets' $3-million offer.

Cone was 14-14 with a 3.29 ERA in 1991 and made $2.35-million. He pitched 232 innings and tied Roger Clemens for the major-league lead in strikeouts with 241. His new salary tops the $3.35-million awarded in arbitration last winter to Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Doug Drabek, who won the 1990 Cy Young Award.

"We felt it would be a difficult case to win after the recent contracts awarded to similar pitchers, specifically when comparing it to Greg Maddux's contract," Mets general manager Al Harazin said. "We're delighted that arbitration season is over, and we're ready to start playing baseball again. We hope David has a great season."

Cone's agents, Stephen Fehr and Richard Moss, compared their client to Chuck Finley of California, who will average $4,625,000 in a four-year deal, and to the Chicago Cubs' Maddux, who signed a one-year deal for $4.2-million.

After the Cone decision, Sierra appeared before arbitrator William Rentfro with the guarantee of the second-highest arbitration salary ever. The Rangers, who tried to negotiate a one-year deal for $4.1-million Tuesday morning, submitted an arbitration figure of $3.8-million _ a $1.15-million raise.

Chuck Berry, one of the outfielder's agents, proposed a $27.5-million, five-year deal but withdrew the proposal Friday.

Sierra last season hit .307 with 25 homers and 116 RBI and made $2.65-million.

Owners lead 10-6 in cases decided by hearings. Four players settled Tuesday, leaving seven in arbitration with three days to go.

The Pirates and left-handed pitcher John Smiley avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $3.44-million deal _ $40,000 more than the midpoint between his $4.1-million request and Pittsburgh's $2.7-million offer. Smiley made $1,425,000 last season.

The 20-game winner is the third Pirate in a little more than three weeks to preclude an arbitration decision by signing for 1992. On Sunday, Drabek agreed to $4.5-million for one season, turning down a four-year deal. Outfielder Barry Bonds signed for $4.7-million Jan.

24. All three players become free agents after this season.

Drabek was 15-14 with a 3.07 ERA last year. Smiley, a left-hander, was 20-8 with a 3.08 ERA. He finished second in voting for the 1991 Cy Young.

The 1991 NL Cy Young winner, Tom Glavine of the Braves, headed off an arbitration hearing scheduled for today by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $2,925,000. He made $775,000 last year, when he went 20-11 and helped bring Atlanta its first pennant. He filed for $3.4-million, and the Braves offered $2.3-million.

Glavine, 25, becomes the highest-paid player on the defending NL champions. He was the last of 11 Atlanta players in arbitration.

Two Baltimore Orioles, outfielder Mike Devereaux and first baseman Randy Milligan, also agreed to one-year contracts Tuesday. Devereaux, 28, raised his salary from $210,000 to $1-million. He asked for $1,075,000, and the Orioles offered him $875,000. Milligan, 30, agreed to $1.05-million. He made $330,000 last season. He then sought $1.4-million; the Orioles offered $900,000.

Devereaux batted .260 last year, with 19 homers and 59 RBI. He appeared in 149 games, mostly as a leadoff hitter, and led the Orioles with 16 stolen bases and 10 triples. Milligan had a .263 average, 16 homers and 70 RBI.

Yanks pull away from

agreement with Pasco

DADE CITY _ Pasco County officials shook hands with New York Yankees vice president Joseph Molloy on Friday on a deal to bring the team's spring training camp and a minor-league team to East Pasco.

On Monday afternoon, the deal fell apart. The Yankees, still without a managing partner and plagued by uncertain leadership throughout the off-season, said their front office was not ready to make a decision.

"It's terribly frustrating, and I am very disappointed with the way they treated the county," Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Wells told fellow commissioners Tuesday night. "It's just not the way to do business."

Phils-Yankees a sellout

CLEARWATER _ The March 22 game between the Phillies and Yankees at Jack Russell Stadium is sold out, the Phils announced.

Tickets to Philadelphia's other spring games are available at the stadium or by phone (813-442-8496).

_ Staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report.