Two general managers who supposedly were pursuing Mickey Tettleton denied they had interest in the free-agent catcher yesterday, while sources with two other clubs indicated he was not a priority item.
Agent Tony Attanasio said Wednesday that five and possibly six teams were interested in Tettleton, but yesterday's developments raised new doubts about the demand for his client.
The Orioles want to re-sign Tettleton for one year, and if he is still a free agent by next Friday, they must offer him a contract through salary arbitration to preserve their right to draft-pick compensation.
That scenario now appears likely, though Attanasio claims he has received contract offers for Tettleton, a switch-hitter who batted .223 with 15 homers and 51 RBIs last season.
Oakland GM Sandy Alderson and Cincinnati GM Bob Quinn said yesterday they did not want Tettleton. Club sources in Atlanta and Detroit confirmed interest, but only in a conditional sense.
Those four teams were believed to be among the most serious about Tettleton. Attanasio, however, did not say how many offers he received, or from which clubs. He was unavailable for comment yesterday.
In Oakland, Alderson said, "I haven't talked to Tettleton's agent about Tettleton for about a month. Right now, there's no way we could afford him. We're not looking anywhere for a catcher."
In Cincinnati, Quinn was just as adamant. "We have not expressed an active interest in Mickey Tettleton," he said. "We're satisfied with our catching."
Atlanta, meanwhile, is pursuing three other free agents -- Franklin Stubbs, Terry Pendleton and Willie Wilson. And the only way Detroit would pursue Tettleton is if he becomes a non-compensation free agent.
That can only happen if the Orioles do not offer him arbitration. Team president Larry Lucchino refused comment on that issue yesterday, but it seems doubtful the club would be willing to part with Tettleton and receive nothing in return.
Tettleton would be required to accept arbitration by Dec. 19 to retain his free agency for next year. If Tettleton rejected arbitration -- and the possibility of doubling his $825,000 salary -- the Orioles would need to sign him by Jan. 8, or lose negotiating rights until May 1.