ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Baltimore Orioles general manager Roland Hemond hinted yesterday that the club would offer salary arbitration to free-agent catcher Mickey Tettleton this week.
The deadline for offering arbitration is midnight Friday. Tettleton then would have until Dec. 19 to decide whether to accept it. Agent Tony Attanasio already has said that Tettleton will accept the offer if he does not have another suitable offer by then.
Hemond stopped short of saying directly that the offer would be made, but conceded that it was the only way the club could protect its interests. The Orioles would not be eligible for draft-choice compensation if Tettleton (a Type A free agent) signed with another club after being refused arbitration.
The club does not give up high draft choices without a fight, so it seems obvious that the arbitration offer will be filed.
"I think you recognize that it would make a lot of sense," Hemond said.
Tettleton still has not received a solid, multiyear offer from any other club, but Attanasio said there has been serious interest from as many as six teams. Several of those teams subsequently denied having made serious overtures.
The Orioles offered Tettleton a one-year contract worth approximately $1.3 million at about the time he filed for free agency. Now, it appears, they might get their wish, though they will not have complete control over the salary figure.
Tettleton and the Orioles each would submit a figure to an arbitrator. The arbitrator would choose one of the two figures, unless the two sides reached a compromise before he decided.
The Orioles have not been involved in an arbitration hearing since 1978, when they used the process to settle a contract dispute with infielder Billy Smith. Hemond represented the Chicago White Sox in 13 arbitration cases before coming to Baltimore and had an excellent won-lost record.
"I'm 9-4," he said, "but I don't want to brag."
Attanasio said last month that he would welcome an arbitration hearing, because he would be allowed to make comparisons between Tettleton and Philadelphia Phillies catcher Darren Daulton, who recently signed for three years at an average salary of $2.25 million.