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Torre, Watson Mull Yankees’ Future

November 11, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Joe Torre and Bob Watson, not knowing if Bernie Williams will be back with the Yankees next season, are planning for a future that may not include the All-Star center fielder, who wants a $70 million, seven-year contract.

``Nobody’s worth that kind of money,″ Watson said Monday after watching owner George Steinbrenner present a $50,000 check to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

Williams is eligible for free agency after next season. If they can’t reach a long-term agreement, the Yankees might trade him or keep Williams and try to negotiate after next season. Watson, New York’s general manager, already has had several discussions with Williams’ agent, Scott Boras.

``If he and his representative feel he’s worth what they’re asking, he may want to wait to see what the free-agent market will bring,″ Watson said, adding that Williams would ``have to put up big numbers″ to become a $10 million-a-year player.

``He’s a real favorite of mine,″ Torre said. ``I’ll miss Bernie if he happens to leave, just like I missed (John) Wetteland and Jimmy Key this year.″

Torre already has talked with Watson about replacing Williams if he’s dealt.

``If Bernie’s not going to be a part of it, we have to find a different way to do it,″ Torre said.

In other news, Torre and Watson hinted catcher Joe Girardi won’t be protected in next week’s expansion draft. Torre said he was happy backup Jorge Posada got some experience last season.

``You’d hate to see him coming into the situation cold out of the minor leagues,″ Torre said.

Watson said three or four minor leaguers will be included in the Yankees’ 15-man protected list, which must be submitted Tuesday. One who won’t is pitcher Kenny Rogers, traded to Oakland on Friday for third baseman Scott Brosius.

``I think it was more than anything physical, thinking he had to show us something instead of pitching as best he can,″ Torre said. ``He was trying to show everyone he was worth the money he got.″

Rogers, who turns 33 Tuesday, signed a $20 million, four-year contract with the Yankees, then went 12-8 with a 4.68 ERA in 1997 and 6-7 with a 5.65 ERA last season. New York agreed to pay half of the $10 million left on the contract in order to get rid of him.

``Nobody can battle the pressure of trying to be perfect all the time,″ Torre said. ``He was never satisfied unless he was damn near perfect.″

Notes: The Yankees also will give $50,000 to the Robinson foundation in 1998, with the total endowing a scholarship. That is in addition to the $33,000 the Yankees have as their part of major league baseball’s $1 million contribution. ... Watson said Montreal isn’t prepared to make a conditional trade for Pedro Martinez in which teams would be given a window to sign the pitcher. If the Expos continue to insist that teams make a final deal for Martinez in which he still could file for free agency after next year, the Yankees’ offer would be for ``less quantity and less quality.″