The Baltimore Orioles signed Joe Orsulak and Mark Williamson to two-year contracts yesterday, reducing their potential salary arbitration cases to three on the deadline for figures to be submitted by players and their teams.
Newly acquired first baseman Glenn Davis made a salary request of $3,650,000, a record for arbitration, topping Robin Yount's $3.4 million last year. The most ever won in arbitration was $1,975,000 by Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees in 1987.
Davis earned $1,985,000 last season with the Houston Astros. The Orioles' offer is $2,900,000.
The other unsigned Orioles are newly acquired pitcher Jeff Robinson and second baseman Bill Ripken. Robinson, who made $410,000 from the Detroit Tigers last season, is asking for $750,000. The Orioles have offered $465,000. Ripken is asking for $790,000, a $575,000 raise. The club has offered $585,000.
In a statement issued by the team, general manager Roland Hemond said of Davis and Robinson: "The fact that we acquired both players so recently afforded us a very limited time for their contract negotiations. Due to the briefness of the negotiating period, we are, in accordance with the deadline set by Major League Baseball, filing salary arbitration figures on both players."
In arbitration, the figures of both sides are weighed at a hearing by an impartial arbitrator, who must decide on either the player's
figure or the club's figure. The arbitrator is
not permitted to compromise.
Dates for the hearings this year are Feb. 1-20.
Orsulak and Williamson, key members of the Orioles' recovery plan in recent seasons, each signed a two-year contract. Orsulak's contract is worth $2.4 million and Williamson's $1.585 million.
Orsulak will be paid $1.1 million next season and Williamson $685,000.
"They both have done a good job for us," said Hemond. "We have faith in their abilities and approach to the game. It's nice to have them signed."
A five-year player, Orsulak could have been a free agent after next season, but he waived that right because, he said, "I'm happy with the contract and happy to be playing in Baltimore."
He played more than ever in 1990, setting personal major-league highs for at-bats, home runs, RBI and walks.
Orsulak had the team's highest batting average in 1988 and 1989 and had a chance to three-peat, but was bothered by back problems the final month and fell from .288 to .269, still second among returnees to Bill Ripken's .291.
With the outfield corps reduced by the trade of Steve Finley to Houston and the question of how much Dwight Evans can play defensively, Orsulak remains prominent in the team's plans.
Williamson has perhaps the most unsung role on the team -- setup man to Gregg Olson, and he has been quietly efficient doing it.
Last year, Williamson was 8-2 with a 2.21 ERA when a fractured right ring finger finished his season Aug. 18.
He had a seven-game winning streak and threw 22 1/3 straight scoreless innings. Since May 30, 1989, he has a 17-5 record.