10/07/05 8:30 PM ET
Padres turn to playoff veteran Williams
Saturday's starter was acquired for big games like Game 3
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
After an 11-8 regular season, plus four postseason starts, the Cardinals opted not to try and re-sign the free agent, general manager Walt Jocketty said on Friday.The Padres, though, wanted to reclaim him, Towers having long regretted the 2001 trade that sent Williams to St. Louis for outfielder Ray Lankford. When negotiations came down to the nitty gritty, Williams was offered the same contract as Wells. Towers told the pair that the pitcher who responded first would be the only one signed. The Padres didn't have the money to carry both in what turned out to be a $70-million player payroll. Williams took the deal -- $3.5 million guaranteed for one year with a vesting option for 2006. Williams was 9-12 this past season with a 4.85 ERA in 28 starts, with the latter number acting as the key. But the contract turned out to be lucrative for the Houston native when the option vested for next season at $5 million on the occasion of his 25th start. Add an incentive bonus of $125,000 per start this year, giving him another $3.5 million, and that's $11.5 million already guaranteed without including incentives to be reached next season. It's the kind of contract the cost-conscious Padres like to sign, Towers said. "There's been some health problems with Woody in the past, and at his age it gives the club some protection," Towers said about Williams, who missed the month of May this season with a left strained oblique muscle. "It incentivizes him to go out there every fifth day. And it gives the club the flexibility that, if you're not in the race, you don't have to start him, either. You both share a little bit of risk. In a perfect world, I'd like that with all my guys, that we both share in the risk." The risk, though, may all belong to Williams on Saturday because he must shut down the Cardinals for the Padres to extend the series. "Pitching against an offense like the Cardinals never makes it easy to pitch at all," Williams said. "I am familiar with their hitters; they are familiar with me. It's about me executing my pitches and making sure I do what I want to do. Not letting them dictate what happens, but for me to take control of the game."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.