MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- The 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 multi-year 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."
Another deal that isn't done but is getting closer is a trade with Philadelphia that would send shortstop Juan Bell to the Phillies, most likely for a young starting pitcher. Philadelphia general manager Lee Thomas said his club and the Orioles did not appear compatible earlier in the day, but the deal revived last night after a new series of discussions.
An Orioles official said righthander Jason Grimsley (1-7, 4.87) was one of the Phillies discussed. Other possibilities include lefthanders Pat Combs (2-6, 4.90) and Bruce Ruffin (4-7, 3.78) and righthander Cliff Brantley (2-2, 3.41).
The clubs nearly completed a Bell-for-Ruffin deal last summer, and the Phillies were one of the teams the Orioles feared would claim Bell on waivers if they sent him to the minor leagues.
Bell, 23, is the last player remaining from the Eddie Murray trade three years ago. He batted .172 with one home run and 15 RBIs in 209 at-bats as a rookie for the Orioles last season.
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. Multi-year contracts are not common for players of such limited service time, but an Orioles official confirmed 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, 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.