Whatever the resolution in the current dispute between baseball's major and minor leagues, the Baltimore Orioles' relationships with their Maryland-based farm clubs will remain intact next season.
The Orioles have contracts to continue affiliations with the Class AA Hagerstown Suns and Class A Frederick Keys for 1991 and strong bonds with both for the future.
"It'll be business as usual for us," said Keith Lupton, general manager of the Keys. "We have an excellent relationship with the Orioles."
Suns general manager Bob Miller said: "We have another year, and so does Frederick. We're the only ones in the system that are good."
Orioles player personnel director Doug Melvin was reluctant to talk about the ongoing negotiations, which involve the division of finances and control of the minors.
But Melvin did say that of the Orioles' five farm clubs, only the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings would be affected if no agreement were reached and the majors carried through with a threat to prepare players at colleges or at complexes in Arizona and Florida.
The Orioles operate the rookie league team in Bluefield, W.Va., and the club still has not settled on a short-season Class A team since the Wausau Timbers disbanded.
The two sides met for five hours in New York Tuesday, and Bill Murray, chief negotiator for the majors, said he and Mike Moore, the minors' chief negotiator, might have found a way to clear a major hurdle in their dispute -- the commissioner's role in minor-league franchise matters.
The major leagues sent their new proposal to the minor leagues yesterday, and said they addressed all the open issues, as major- and minor-league officials headed to their winter meetings, which begin at separate sites Saturday.
But Murray also said that differences remained in five substantive areas:
* Term of an agreement.
* Whether the majors would guarantee player-development contracts for all minor-league teams for the length of the new agreement.
* Allocation of minor-league costs.
* How to restart the affiliations with those minor-league clubs whose player-development contracts were canceled.
Peter Kirk, principal owner of the Suns and Keys, also is a member of the National Association (minor leagues) negotiating team. He said he foresees a settlement.
"I've been optimistic all along that there will be a deal, because it makes sense on both sides," Kirk said. "Our offer is more generous to the majors than I think they expected.
"Those folks [major-league owners] negotiate in funny ways. They let things go to a crisis until cooler heads prevail."
Kirk is a Columbia-based businessman who also is trying to secure a Class AAA team for the Annapolis-Bowie area after the National League expands, creating two openings.
He said that, despite reports to the contrary, "There has been no movement whatsoever" in the talks recently. "All that was brought out was discussed several weeks ago.
"They [majors] have our final position. We're not moving any further, period. In the eyes of the minor-league owners, we've given too much already."
That includes a 5 percent concession of gross ticket sales to the majors.
If a deal is not struck, major- and minor-league teams would be free to deal with each other about working agreements on a one-on-one basis or the minors would have to sign their own players as free agents.
The 54 minor-league teams whose player-development contracts with major-league clubs continue through the 1991 season, according to the commissioner's office (major-league affiliations in parentheses):
American Association Indianapolis (Expos)
International League Scranton-Wilkes Barre(Phillies)
Syracuse (Blue Jays)
Pacific Coast League Albuquerque (Dodgers)
Las Vegas (Padres)
Texas League Arkansas (Cardinals)
Eastern League Hagerstown (Orioles)
London, Ontario (Tigers)
Southern League Charlotte (Cubs)
Carolina League Frederick (Orioles)
Pr. William (Yankees)
California League Palm Springs (Angels)
San Jose (Giants)
Florida State League St. Petersburg (Cardinals)
Midwest League Beloit (Brewers)
Cedar Rapids (Reds)
Quad City (Angels)
South Atlantic League Augusta (Pirates)
New York-Penn League Geneva (Cubs)
Northwest League Boise (Angels)
Appalachian League No clubs under contract.
Arizona League No clubs under contract.
Gulf Coast League No clubs under contract.
Pioneer League Billings (Reds)
Idaho Falls (Braves)