THE ORIOLES probably won't complete any free-agent business this week.
At this point, first baseman/outfielder Franklin Stubbs and lefthander Matt Young seem unlikely to reach contract decisions before the winter meetings open Saturday in Chicago.
Agent Jim Turner said he made a counter-proposal Monday to the Orioles and two other clubs that offered Stubbs contracts, "letting them know exactly where I want to be." He added that he expects one or two more offers by the weekend.
Meanwhile, agent Ron Shapiro said there has been "tremendous interest" in Young, which is not surprising given the intense demand for lefthanded starters. Shapiro said he had not actually counted the number of Young's offers, but indicated several clubs would make proposals.
"It's definitely more than just the Orioles, and more than the Orioles and a few others," Shapiro said. "We're still following up. Some clubs have given specific offers. Other clubs say they want to wait until the weekend."
Detroit, Boston and Seattle are among the clubs reportedly bidding for Young, who finished 8-18 with a 3.51 ERA for the Mariners last season, but ranked among the league leaders in innings (225 1/3 ), strikeouts (176) and complete games (seven).
Three other free-agent lefthanded starters -- Tom Browning, Danny Jackson and Bud Black -- each signed four-year contracts worth at least $10 million. Young, 32, is not as highly regarded, but he almost certainly will receive a three-year deal in the $6 million to $7 million range.
"There really is a lot of interest," Shapiro said. "I had a sense of that before the lefthanded phenomenon. You get over the won-lost record, look at the innings he has compiled, talk to people like Kirby Puckett, who said he's throwing like a rookie . . ."
Stubbs, 30, is in similar demand, and figures to also receive a three-year deal in the $6-7 million range. A lefthanded hitter, he batted .261 with 23 homers and 71 RBIs for Houston last season. Cleveland and Atlanta reportedly are among the teams trying to sign him.
Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said he did not speak with either Shapiro or Turner yesterday. Ideally, the Orioles would like to sign Stubbs or Young before the meetings. But the agents are trying to negotiate the best deals possible, and that takes time.
* CATCH AS CATCH CAN: The Oakland A's yesterday re-signed free-agent catcher Jamie Quirk to a two-year contract (terms were not disclosed). That virtually eliminates any chance they will be interested in Quirk's former teammate in Baltimore, Mickey Tettleton.
The A's never were serious about re-acquiring Tettleton, not with their 1991 payroll expected to approach $30 million. Asked last week about Tettleton, general manager Sandy Alderson said, "We've talked to his agent, but I really don't know how we can get involved in that."
Tettleton's agent, Tony Attanasio, said this week that four teams have made contract overtures to his client, but declined to name the teams. A few obvious candidates -- the New York Yankees, Texas, Seattle -- reportedly are not interested. Many other clubs simply do not need Tettleton.
So, unless a surprise bidder emerges, it appears the Orioles still might sign Tettleton to a one-year contract through salary arbitration. The deadline for offering arbitration is Dec. 7 -- one day after the meetings end.
* CHI-TO, CHI-TO: Here's a scouting report on Chito Martinez, the power-hitting outfielder the Orioles recently signed as a six-year, minor-league free agent. It comes from Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz, Martinez's former GM in Kansas City.
"He's got surprising power for a guy his size [5 feet 10, 180 pounds], and a very strong throwing arm," Schuerholz said. "But he has had a career beset by inconsistency. He's had some excellent years, and some disappointing years."
Martinez, who turns 25 on Dec. 19, batted .264 with 21 homers and 67 RBIs for the Royals' Triple A Omaha affiliate last season. He has averaged 19 homers and 65 RBIs the last three years (two at Double A), but the Royals did not include him on their 40-man roster.
Their decision was made after Schuerholz changed jobs, but he said it was the right move. Martinez, he believes, "is better off going to a new team." As for major-league potential, Schuerholz said he might prove useful as an extra outfielder.