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Padres' Gwynn Becomes Free Agent

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NEW YORK (AP) — After winning eight NL batting titles and signing contract extensions that often left him underpaid, Tony Gwynn is finally a free agent at age 41.

Gwynn broke in with the Padres on July 19, 1982, and has 3,108 hits and a .338 career average. He led the Padres to their only two World Series appearances, in 1984 and `98.

San Diego declined a $6 million option, electing to pay him a $2 million buyout.

``It's business. Everybody wants to be nostalgic, but business is business,'' Gwynn said Tuesday.

Asked if his career with the Padres was over, Gwynn responded: ``Probably, I would say.''

``It just doesn't look good. I think I'm better than just a pinch-hitter. For the first time, I've got to look at my own situation and see what's best for me. You never know. Nobody might offer me anything. I'll keep an open mind, go about my business and hopefully my phone will ring and I'll get an opportunity.''

Forty-five players filed Tuesday, raising the total to 88.

Right-hander reliever Jeff Nelson and left-handed starter Denny Neagle filed from the World Series champion New York Yankees, and left-handed reliever John Franco and right fielder Derek Bell filed from the NL champion New York Mets.

Also filing were Oakland right-hander Kevin Appier, San Diego second baseman Bret Boone, injured Boston closer Tom Gordon, St. Louis right-hander Pat Hentgen, Atlanta left-hander Terry Mulholland and Cincinnati right-hander Mark Wohlers.

Boston declined options on pitchers Ramon Martinez ($8.5 million), Tim Wakefield ($5 million), Tom Gordon ($4.5 million) and Pete Schourek ($2.25 million) and will pay buyouts of $750,000 to Martinez, $500,000 to Gordon and $562,500 to Schourek.

Texas exercised a $4.5 million option on outfielder Rusty Greer and a $1.4 million option on right-hander Tim Crabtree, but declined a $1 million option of left-hander Mike Munoz, electing to pay a $100,000 buyout.

Cincinnati exercised a $1.8 million on catcher Eddie Taubensee.

Colorado outfielder Todd Hollandsworth, eligible to file, instead agreed to a $5.5 million, two-year contract with the Colorado Rockies, a deal with a $500,000 signing bonus and annual salaries of $2.5 million.

There currently are 152 players potentially eligible to file before the Nov. 10 deadline. Players can start discussing money with new teams on Nov. 11.
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