The Baltimore Orioles are ready to make their opening bid for a free-agent starting pitcher, and it appears that the club's interest is now centered on left-hander Matt Young.
Orioles president Larry Lucchino and general manager Roland Hemond met last week with agent Ron Shapiro, leading to speculation that the team was interested in signing left-hander Danny Jackson. But a source said yesterday that the club soon would make an offer to Young, another Shapiro client who would help balance a decidedly right-handed Orioles rotation. That offer could come as early as today.
Hemond declined to confirm or deny the report and Shapiro was unavailable for comment, but the Orioles' interest in a veteran left-handed starter already is well-known. The club appears to have focused on Young because his 8-18 record last year for the Seattle Mariners figures to hold down his asking price.
But does it? Young's frightening won-loss record was tempered by a solid 3.51 ERA during a 1990 season in which his performance improved dramatically after a frustrating start. New York Yankees right-hander Tim Leary had a 9-19 record and a 4.11 ERA last year and just signed a three-year contract worth $5.95 million.
Young also is looking for a three-year contract, which is why he tTC has not re-signed with the Mariners. He reportedly passed on a two-year offer worth $3 million, but a return to Seattle is not out of the question.
The Orioles would figure to be wary of a pitcher with Young's medical history, which includes a Tommy John-type elbow reconstruction in 1988, but Young proved that his arm was sound by pitching 225 innings last year and displaying a fastball that was clocked as high as 93 mph.
Though the Orioles are not lacking in pitching depth, the disappointing 1990 performance of left-hander Jeff Ballard left club officials concerned about the left-right balance of the staff. If the season were to begin today, the entire starting rotation would be right-handed, as would the two most-used relief pitchers (Gregg Olson and Mark Williamson).
The acquisition of a veteran starter has become a priority for a variety of reasons. The Orioles also would like to add a stabilizing influence to the youthful rotation and increase the team's roster flexibility to enhance the possibility of a major trade.
The Orioles left the impression last week that they were ready to make a play for first baseman/outfielder Franklin Stubbs, but they have yet to follow up on preliminary negotiations with agent Jim Turner.
"I've been told that they are interested," Turner said yesterday, "but I haven't heard anything from them."