Payton Passed Over

POSTED BY: News Department
Tuesday, December 23, 2003 - 11:49 AM
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Jay Payton enjoyed a career year for Rockies in 2003.

So naturally the Zanesville native will spend next season with a different team.

Welcome to the business side of baseball.

The Rockies non-tendered Payton's contract this weekend, essentially making him an unrestricted free agent for next season. Instead, Colorado signed 34-year-old left fielder Jeromy Burnitz to a one-year contract worth $1.5 million.

"We wanted to keep Jay," Rockies general manager Don O'Dowd told the Rockies' website. "He and his representative made it very clear to me that Jay's first priority was to get a multiyear contract, which I completely understood. Ultimately, we wanted the Rockies to be the first priority. We weren't, so we began looking at alternatives. We wish Jay the best of luck."

Payton reportedly wants a multi-year contract with a team in the area of two-years, $6 million. The Rockies reportedly offered a one-year, $3.5 million deal and a multiyear conterproposal.

"I think everyone knows me well enough and knows what kind of person I am -- I don't take their decision personal," said Payton on the Rockies' website. "I wish nothing but the best for the organization. They were very good to me in my brief time there. It was an honor to be a part of their organization."

Payton batted .302 last season with career-highs in HRs (28) and RBIs (89). He also posted the Rockies' best batting average (.281) away from Coors field, second only to Todd Helton's .325.

Colorado saved money by signing Burnitz instead of Payton. That may have been the determining factor in choosing a left fielder, as the Rockies are in discussions with free-agent SS Rich Aurilla.

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