Orioles sign Olson for 2 years, $3.75 million Arbitration avoided with star reliever

December 10, 1991|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Correspondent

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- The Baltimore Orioles finalized a new contract with Gregg Olson yesterday, locking him up with a two-year deal worth $3.75 million.

Olson, whose 95 saves are the most by a pitcher his age (25), is the fifth Oriole to re-sign since the end of the 1991 season. The list includes Glenn Davis, Dwight Evans and Tim Hulett.

The Orioles were eager to get him under contract and avoid the possibility of a series of costly salary arbitration showdowns. Olson would have been eligible for arbitration for the first time this year.

Olson will be paid $1.5 million next year -- a record for a relief pitcher in his service class -- and $2.25 million in 1993. Olson will donate $500 to a Baltimore charity for every win or save he records.

The contract ranks among the biggest given to a player with three years of major-league service. Both sides apparently used the contracts signed by Ken Griffey Jr. and Matt Williams last winter as a launching point for this year's negotiations. Each signed a two-year deal worth about $2.5 million after two years of service.

Olson was 4-6 with 31 saves and a 3.18 ERA in 72 appearances in 1991. His 95 career saves rank second on the Orioles' all-time list behind Tippy Martinez's 105.

Vincent concerned

Commissioner Fay Vincent delivered his state-of-baseball address to a large crowd of baseball officials before yesterday's Rule V draft, surprising no one with his view on the condition of the game.

He voiced his concern about the state of baseball economics:

"Small-market clubs simply have no choice but to arrange their payrolls on an entirely different scale. And moving money from club to club is not the total answer. Compounding the problem is our system of salary arbitration -- a system so well designed and thought out that no one has ever seen fit to copy it."

He expressed more concern about baseball's runaway salary structure:

"The result of arbitration, to the dismay of the small-market clubs, is that it imposes large-market financial judgments on all other clubs. And the trickle-down effect as free-agent signings seep into the salary arbitration process is like pitching to Maris and Mantle back-to-back. If one doesn't get you the other will."

He talked about the state of minority hiring in baseball:

"This year, 14 new managers were hired in the major leagues, but only one, Hal McRae in Kansas City, is a minority. I do not question the good faith or the wisdom of individual club decisions. However, the situation deserves our continuing attention. I have stressed to the clubs that I am against quotas. I am in favor, however, of insuring that opportunities exist for minority group members."

And he took issue with the perception that CBS and ESPN overpaid for television rights:

"When CBS calculates its loss on baseball, it cannot and does not offset the economic benefit, certainly substantial, of maintaining affiliate relations and network integrity while the entertainment programming was being revitalized. . . . As for ESPN, it, too, has reported losses on its baseball arrangements, but I think there is more to the story. I believe ESPN has wisely used baseball to dominate cable programming throughout the summer. Where would ESPN be without baseball? There are only so many tractor pulls and billiard matches you can televise."

Orioles draft 2, lose 1

The Orioles selected two players from the New York Mets organization in the minor-league phase of the Rule V draft at the Fontainebleau Resort.

The club added catcher/first baseman Paul Williams to the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings roster and picked up outfielder Steve Cameron for the Class AA Hagerstown Suns. Williams batted .259 with eight homers and 72 RBI for the Class AA Williamsport Mets, and Cameron hit .185 with two homers and 26 RBI for the Class A St. Lucie Mets.

L Hagerstown outfielder Tyrone Kingwood was lost in the draft.

Davis named top DH

Chili Davis, who hit 29 home runs and had 93 RBI in helping the Minnesota Twins win a world championship, has been voted the Outstanding Designated Hitter of the 1991 American League season.

Davis ranked first on 69 of the 84 ballots, which are distributed to selected broadcasters, writers and public relations directors. He hit .277 and led all DHs in total bases (269), home runs and RBI.

The award had been given the previous two years to Dave Parker.

Mets trade Beatty

The New York Mets sent former Orioles left-hander Blaine Beatty to the Montreal Expos yesterday for 23-year-old outfield prospect Jeff Barry.

Beatty was acquired by the Mets in the trade that sent reliever Doug Sisk to the Orioles on Dec. 8, 1987 -- the first trade consummated by Roland Hemond as Orioles general manager.

Barry was Montreal's fourth-round pick in the June, 1990 draft. He will be assigned to the Mets' Eastern League team in Binghamton, N.Y.

Pirates sign Fisher

The Pittsburgh Pirates signed free-agent right-hander Brian Fisher to a Class AAA contract yesterday and invited him to spring training as a non-roster player. Fisher was 10-6 for Class AAA Denver (Milwaukee Brewers) last year.

Reds player named

The Cincinnati Reds acquired outfield prospect Craig Pueschner, completing the trade that sent reliever Randy Myers to the San Diego Padres for infielder/outfielder Bip Roberts on Sunday night.

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