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Today in Cubs history: The 10-and-5 clause is invoked by Ron Santo

It led, briefly, to this part of the labor agreement being termed the “Santo clause.”

Louis Requena/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Duane Pesice put this note in Cub Tracks, but I thought you’d be interested in a few more details of the story of how Ron Santo became the first player to invoke his 10-and-5 rights under the then-new labor agreement between owners and players.

The contract clause allowed players who had 10 years of major league experience, and at least the last five with the same team, to veto any trade.

Santo, who had been a popular player over the first few years of his career, had fallen out of favor both with management and fans by the end of the 1973 season, and his production had fallen off as well. With 1973 being another year of collapse after a promising beginning, general manager John Holland made the decision to “back up the truck” and do what we’d now consider a teardown and rebuild.

Just three weeks after the season ended, Fergie Jenkins was traded to the Rangers. That was followed in November with the swap of Glenn Beckert to the Padres.

And on December 5, 1973, the Cubs announced they had reached an agreement to trade Ron Santo to the Angels. Though the Tribune reported that Angels GM Harry Dalton “refused to divulge the names of any players who had been discussed in framing a deal with the Cubs,” it was later learned that coming to the Cubs in that deal were supposed to be two young pitchers, Andy Hassler and Bruce Heinbechner, both 22 years old and both lefthanded.

But Santo rejected the deal, citing the 10-and-5 rights. He didn’t want to leave Chicago, where he had young children in school and business interests outside baseball. In the Tribune the next day, he was quoted as saying:

“If I was 26 instead of 33, I might feel differently about moving. But I only have a couple of years left and I want to play them here. Of course I realize that could cut my career down even more.”

Robert Markus, Tribune columnist, noted the White Sox already had a first baseman (Dick Allen) and third baseman (Bill Melton) and Santo might not be a fit there. He suggested the Cubs might call up the Brewers, who were “only an hour and five minutes” from Santo’s north suburban home:

Milwaukee, too, has a third baseman, Don Money, and a first baseman, George Scott, but Money came up to the majors as a shortstop. Don batted .284 last year and if he can play a passable game at shortstop he could team with Santo to form a formidable left side of the infield.

Or the Cubs could have asked for Don Money in return. Money wasn’t a great player, but he did put up some decent seasons for the Brewers in the mid 1970s, and was a four-time All-Star.

But Santo had made it clear that he didn’t want to leave the Chicago area, and so only a day later the Cubs opened negotiations with the White Sox, with the Tribune quoting Santo as saying, “Now I really want to play for the Sox more than anyone else.”

It took just that one more day to complete a deal that sent Steve Stone, Steve Swisher, Ken Frailing and Jim Kremmel to the Cubs for Santo. Stone had a couple of pretty good years for the Cubs before returning to the White Sox as a free agent in 1977. Swisher wasn’t as good as advertised and was perhaps the worst Cubs All-Star selection ever in 1976. Frailing was out of baseball after 1976, and Kremmel pitched poorly for the Cubs in 23 games in 1974 and never appeared in the majors again.

Santo, as you know, retired after a poor season for the White Sox in 1974. As noted, the Sox already had a third baseman, so Santo was used as a DH (which he hated), then manager Chuck Tanner embarrassed him by playing him at second base for 39 games.

As for the two pitchers the Cubs were to have received from the Angels? Andy Hassler had a 14-year major-league career for six teams, mainly as a middle reliever, though as a starter for the Royals he appeared in a couple of postseason games in 1976 and 1977.

Bruce Heinbechner had been considered a pretty good starting rotation prospect and likely would have competed for a spot in the Cubs rotation in 1974. Still with the Angels organization, he was killed in a car accident while driving from his southern California home to Angels spring training, then located in Palm Springs.

There haven’t been too many players who have invoked 10-and-5 rights in the 45 years it’s been part of MLB’s labor agreement. You might recall another Cub who did so recently: Derrek Lee was supposed to go to the Angels in 2010; he used his 10-and-5 rights to refuse and instead was sent to the Atlanta Braves.