Closer to the Hall of Fame Bruce Sutter made the most of the free agent deal

Hall of Fame closest Bruce Sutter, who retired from baseball 34 years earlier, was still receiving his annual salary from the Atlanta Braves when he passed away at the age of 69 on Friday.

Ted Turner, then the fickle and enigmatic owner of the team, surprised the baseball world when he signed a long-term contract with the star but deferred after the 1984 season, but never realized the dividends he expected.

The Braves finished fifth with a record of 66-96, changed coaches mid-season and only scored 23 saves and an average of 4.48 earned by the suddenly deadly Sutter.

The closest had been a six-time All-Star, National League Cy Young Award winner and world champion, but he wasn’t the same pitcher as the Braves when both he and his career went south.

He had mastered the split-finger fastball, pitching the field for strikes and led the National League in saves five times.

When he retired, his 300 saves placed third on the career list, although he has been surpassed many times since. Sutter also had an earned career average of 2.83.

Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006, Sutter was the first pitcher to reach Cooperstown without ever starting a game. All of his 661 appearances, starting with the Chicago Cubs in 1976, have been a relief.

Heavy rescue who has worked at least 60 games in seven different seasons, Sutter has also proven himself capable of working multiple innings per exit.

“He cut the percentages from me from 27 outs per game to 21,” said Whitey Herzog, the Hall of Fame manager who traded him. “He had the best makeup of any neighbor he has ever seen.”

Sutter was a minor league with a dead arm when Fred Martin, then minor league pitch coordinator for the Chicago Cubs, taught him the basics of throwing the splitter. After reaching the majors in 1976, he equalized the National League record of 37 saved and later set a new one with a personal peak of 45 for the 1984 Cardinals.

In the same season, he also established career best with 122 innings 2/3 and 71 appearances.

This convinced the Braves to sign him for a $ 9.1 million six-year deal with much of the money deferred. Although he only conceded 40 saves to Atlanta in three injury-ridden seasons, Sutter landed a big winner.

His deal included $ 4.8 million in deferred money that would pay 13% interest over a 36-year period. Once he expired in 1990, Sutter began receiving an annual salary of $ 1.3 million a year, pushing his total value to nearly $ 50 million, making him one of the biggest in baseball at the time.

Sutter spent five years with the Cubs, four with the Cardinals and three with the Braves, but remained a resident of Atlanta after retiring. His son Chad was briefly a minor league receiver before becoming a baseball coach at Tulane University.

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