It may or may not be coincidental that Glenn Davis and all of the Orioles' front office officials are in town for the first time since shortly after the season concluded. But there are indications that the first baseman is close to reaching an agreement on a contract for next year.
Davis has just returned from a trip to Israel and Roland Hemond is less than 24 hours removed from a meeting of major-league general managers in Boca Raton, Fla.
Hemond, who was accompanied to the GMs' meeting by assistants Frank Robinson and Doug Melvin, has not been directly involved in negotiations. However, club president Larry Lucchino has maintained contact with Robert Fraley, who represents Davis.
It is believed the two sides are ready to strike a one-year deal, working around the $3.275 million Davis earned in 1991, a settlement that avoided an arbitration hearing.
Davis filed for free agency a week ago, four days after the market opened for potential candidates, but could retain that possibility by re-signing with the Orioles for next season. After spending most of this year on the disabled list, that is considered to be the most viable option for both Davis and the Orioles.
Davis has expressed satisfaction with the organization and a desire to return, and the Orioles have indicated they want to include the righthanded slugger in their future. At this point, however, neither side is likely to lock in for a long-term arrangement.
The feeling is that Davis filed for free agency as a standard protection, in case something didn't work out and there was a team out there willing to make a long-term commitment. Whether negotiations ever get to the second step most likely depends on negotiations with the Orioles, which are likely to include incentive clauses.
There is a good chance this is one offseason goal that the Orioles will resolve early -- possibly before the weekend is over.
Another rumor involving the Orioles is that they have talked to the New York Mets about a possible deal involving second baseman Bill Ripken.
Other than the obvious, the biggest drawback is what the Mets might be willing to offer, now that they are no longer stockpiled with pitching prospects (see: David West, Kevin Tapani, Rick Aguilera for Frank Viola).
What does give this rumor some credence is the Orioles' reported interest in free agent Juan Samuel, a second baseman-centerfielder who may or may not be their answer for a leadoff hitter.