Free agency looms, but contract talks will wait

January 11, 1991|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Evening Sun Staff

Both sides are happy with the trade, but neither the Orioles nor Glenn Davis are in any hurry to talk about a new contract.

In that regard the only thing certain is that Davis will be the Orioles' highest paid player this coming season. Whether his salary is determined by negotiation or arbitration remains to be seen, but it almost certainly will be in the vicinity of $3 million. Cal Ripken, who is in the final year of a three-year contract that averages $2.3 million, is currently the Orioles' highest-paid player.

Continuing their "first things first" approach to yesterday's blockbuster trade, the Orioles said they are content to let Davis get a feel for the organization and the city before attempting to extend the slugger's contract beyond the coming season. Davis, who is eligible to become a free agent after 1991, didn't rule out the possibility of a long-term contract, but said he wasn't in any hurry to make a decision.

"We're not going to rush into any intense negotiations," said Orioles president Larry Lucchino. "We want to give him a chance to meet us and get a feel for the city and the organization.

"We've been in contact with his agent [Robert Fraley], and we'll be ready to negotiate immediately, but we're not going to try to rush them into anything," said Lucchino. "They've been on an arbitration course down there [in Houston] and they're pretty much prepared for that.

"I'm sure he'll file. Then they can submit a figure they think is fair and we'll submit one we think is fair. Then we can go from there."

Davis, who was paid $1.985 million last year after winning his arbitration case with Houston, reportedly told the Astros it would take a five-year, $25 million offer to re-sign him. Even by today's standards that is an inflated figure, one that would make Davis the highest paid player in the game, at least for a few days.

Asked if he would consider a long-term agreement to remain in Baltimore, Davis said: "Yes -- but that's down the road. Right now I'm just glad I'm coming and have a chance to be part of an organization that is building and wants to win. It's an ideal situation for me to come into."

In separate news conferences, via phone hookup here and in person in Houston, Davis said he was "excited" about joining the Orioles.

"This doesn't mean I'm going to spend the rest of my career in Baltimore," he said. "Who knows? We'll see what happens. What I do know about Baltimore so far is they've made me feel like they appreciate having me.

"I've heard nothing but great things about the city and the park from Storm [Davis] and other players," said Davis, who is no relation but grew up with the former Orioles pitcher. "Storm called me [after the trade was announced], but I wasn't here. I'm anxious to talk to him and find out all I can about the city."

Davis already knows that the American League has smaller parks than the National League, and that alone is enough to excite someone who has spent his entire career hitting in the Astrodome. "It can be frustrating," he admitted. "I've been told by a few players that I'm going to have fun playing in smaller parks."

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