Less than 24 hours after they learned Mickey Tettleton had accepted arbitration, the Orioles further solidified their catching staff.
Bob Melvin, who has been a dependable backup to Tettleton the last two years, agreed yesterday to a $1.55 million, two-year contract that extends one year beyond his eligibility for free agency. The Orioles revealed that Melvin's contract calls for $650,000 next year and $900,000 in 1992.
"It's a good feeling to know you have a young guy like [Chris] Hoiles available for the next several years and somebody like Melvin for the next two," said Orioles' personnel director Doug Melvin (no relation). With those two, Tettleton and Jeff Tackett, who was promoted from the Rochester roster this year, "we feel we have depth with our catching," Doug Melvin said. "It's a position where a lot of clubs have a need."
Though he has never been a regular in the big leagues, Bob Melvin has attracted interest from teams in search of a defensive catcher. The two-year contract would make him even more appealing, but Doug Melvin said that trade possibilities had nothing to do with the two-year contract. "There has been some interest in Bob," he said, "but our thinking now is that they [Tettleton, Melvin and Hoiles] will all compete for a job in spring training.
"Bob has done a good job for us in the role he's had. He's done a good job defensively and the pitchers enjoy throwing to him. He's a good guy to have on a club -- you don't feel as bad with an injury with him around."
Melvin hit a career-high .243 in 93 games (also a personal high) and drove in 37 runs last year. Defensively he committed only one error in 76 games and in the two years he's been with the Orioles, 40 of his 69 runs batted in (58 percent) have come with two outs.
Neither Melvin, who is spending the winter at his home in Tennessee, nor his agent Doug Baldwin, snowbound in Seattle, was available after the Orioles announced the agreement last night.
Melvin is the fourth player (of 39 on the roster) to be signed for 1991. He joins shortstop Cal Ripken, free-agent acquisition Dwight Evans and Tettleton, who is considered signed by virtue of having accepted arbitration.
Yesterday was the deadline for major-league clubs to mail contracts (the Orioles sent theirs out last month). There was a surprise development in Toronto.
Lefthanded pitcher John Cerutti, who was 9-9 with a 4.76 earned run average for the Blue Jays last year, was not tendered a contract for 1991. That makes him a free agent, and Melvin admitted the Orioles might be interested.
"I know they have been trying to trade him," Melvin said of Cerutti. "We might have some interest -- we're very open to looking for lefthanded pitchers. We're primarily interested in a hard throwing lefthander -- but hard throwing lefthanders usually get offered contracts."
Melvin also acknowledged that ex-Oriole Mike Flanagan, released by Toronto early last year, has also been discussed as a possible candidate for next spring. It is unlikely that the Orioles will offer Flanagan a contract, but they want him to come to camp with the idea of competing for a relief job if he's interested.
Flanagan, who makes his home in Baltimore, has been rehabilitating his arm and has said he'd be willing to work out of the bullpen under the right circumstances. At the moment Kevin Hickey, who spent half of last year at Rochester, is the only experienced lefthanded reliever available to the Orioles.
Melvin indicated that Flanagan's name will be brought up again before the Orioles finalize their plans for spring training.