Free-agent lefthander Matt Young said last night he expects his first contract offer soon, but he is not sure it will come from the Orioles, one of more than 10 teams shopping for his services.
The Sun, citing a source, reported today that the Orioles are preparing to make an offer to the 32-year-old veteran, who finished 8-18 with a 3.51 ERA for Seattle last season.
But another source today said the Orioles were merely "contemplating" offers to Young and several other free agents, describing all other speculation as "jumping the gun."
Orioles president Larry Lucchino and general manager Roland Hemond met for nearly an hour last week with Young's agents, Baltimore-based attorney Ron Shapiro and his associate, Michael Maas.
"I know I'm going to have an offer, supposedly," Young said from his southern California home. "But to tell you the truth, I haven't talked to Ron or Michael since Friday afternoon. I'm kind of in the dark."
Shapiro also represents free-agent lefthander Danny Jackson of Cincinnati, but the source indicated the Orioles are now focusing on Young, in part because of questions over Jackson's durability.
In addition, the world champion Reds are expected to push to keep Jackson. Their other lefthanded starter, Tom Browning, also is a free agent, and expects to sign a five-year contract with another club today.
Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Chicago Cubs reportedly are Browning's finalists. The two losers figure to pursue Jackson, joining a lengthy list of teams that includes two of the Orioles' AL East rivals, Boston and Toronto.
Young, seeking a three-year deal, likely has drawn interest from the same set of clubs. Like Jackson, he is a no-compensation free agent, so the team that signs him won't lose a draft pick. But his terms might be more reasonable -- Jackson won 23 games in 1988 before struggling with shoulder problems the past two years.
Coming off reconstructive elbow surgery, Young ranked among the AL leaders last season in complete games (seven), innings (225 1/3 ) and strikeouts (176). He would balance an Orioles rotation that at the moment has only one lefthanded candidate, Jeff Ballard.
His lifetime record is 51-78, and his career high in wins is 12. He also pitched for Oakland and Los Angeles prior to rejoining Seattle, his original club, as a a free agent last year.
Asked if he has a preference regarding next year, Young said, "I haven't really thought about it. When I get an offer, I'll have to look at it then and make my decision."
"It's a great city to go to -- I can handle it," Young said, chuckling. "I've always pitched pretty well in the stadium there.