The Baltimore Orioles have made the re-signing of free agent Glenn Davis their top off-season project and are involved in serious negotiations with his representatives.
"Signing Glenn is our No. 1 priority," team president Larry Lucchino said yesterday. "He's the kind of person and player we want in the Orioles organization. Hopefully, we will get it done."
General manager Roland Hemond said: "We certainly have a lot of interest in Glenn Davis."
Negotiations between Leader Enterprises, Davis' agency, and the Orioles have been under way for several weeks. But Lucchino would not respond to any questions about the specifics of the talks except to say "they are amicable but intense."
Robert Fraley and Mike Moye, Davis' agents, have not returned numerous phone calls made by The Sun.
Davis, who returned earlier this week from a trip to Israel, said yesterday: "I think we're still in the middle of negotiations. There are a lot of issues still unresolved, but I haven't changed my mind about what I said in the very beginning about Baltimore and the team, being part of the community and playing for the people."
He reiterated that he filed for free agency simply to "exercise my rights and options to keep from losing them."
However, a deal with the Orioles does not appear imminent.
There is speculation that the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers are among a number of teams interested in signing Davis.
The National League champion Braves have a gimpy-kneed Sid Bream and Brian Hunter, by trade an outfielder, sharing first, and Dodgers first baseman Eddie Murray is on the free-agent list. But, according to the rules, neither team can begin negotiating with Davis until Tuesday.
Davis earned $3.275 million last season after avoiding an arbitration hearing by signing a one-year contract with the Orioles. But he played in only 49 games, missing much of the season after incurring an injury to the spinal accessory nerve in his neck. He hit 10 home runs and drove in 28.
During the past two years, he has missed more than a full season because of injuries, decreasing his market value. But he still is respected as one of the game's top sluggers when healthy.
Under the circumstances, signing a one-year contract, perhaps laced with incentives, seems to be the most viable option for both Davis and the Orioles. If he does so, he could retain his free-agent rights after next season.
Lucchino said talks will continue, but added they do not always run smoothly. "Let me just say there is an ebb and flow in every negotiation," he said. "Glenn is a contract priority. We're hopeful we can work with him and get it done. We have been very active."