Orioles close to signing Olson for 2 years

December 09, 1991|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Correspondent

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. PHC 1/8 B — MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- The Baltimore Orioles apparently are very close to signing relief stopper Gregg Olson to a two-year contract worth more than $3 million.

Several club sources said yesterday that a tentative multiyear package had been worked out with agent Jeff Moorad, but Olson said last night that it had not been completed.

"There's really not much I can tell you," Olson said, "except that it isn't done yet."

It appears it is just a matter of working out some minor details and getting a signature, but the club may not make an announcement until later in the week.

Olson earned $505,000 last year, a season in which he ranked seventh in the American League with 31 saves. The terms of his pending contract have not been released, but the two-year total is believed to be in the neighborhood of $3.2 million.

The two-year deal, when completed, would take Olson to his free-agent option year, giving the Orioles one year to re-sign him before he would be eligible for free agency. Multiyear contracts bTC are not common for players of such limited service time, but an Orioles official confirmed that the club was not comfortable with the prospect of going to salary arbitration with Olson during baseball's latest salary explosion.

Olson has saved 95 games in his first three seasons in the major leagues, the most in major-league history by a pitcher under 25 years of age. He has been so productive so early in his career that comparisons for the purpose of determining a salary would have been difficult. Both sides apparently looked at the two-year contracts awarded to Seattle Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr., and San Francisco Giants third baseman Matt Williams after the 1990 season.

Both players signed two-year contracts worth approximately $2.5 million after their second year of service. Olson is in the same service class, but he will get more because he signed the two-year deal after his third year of service.

Still, it took an unusual set of circumstances to make a two-year deal attractive to both sides. Olson's raw save total was im

pressive, but he was not as overpowering in 1991 as he had been the previous two seasons. The multiyear contract will secure his financial future at a time when he can't be feeling as secure about his performance as he did after the 1990 season.

The Orioles have been surprisingly quick to negotiate with Olson, who would not have had to opt for salary arbitration for another month. The relationship between the club and Moorad has been cordial, and the team has kept Olson among the highest-paid players in his service class since he was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1989.

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