Amenable McDonald signs 1-year deal

March 04, 1992|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Right-handed pitcher Ben McDonald agreed to terms on a one-year contract that could pay him as much as $500,000 for the 1992 season.

McDonald, who last year completed the three-year deal he signed after becoming baseball's No. 1 draft choice in 1989, accepted a base salary of $355,000 and an incentive package that could add $145,000, if he pitches 200 innings and makes an undisclosed number of starts.

The agreement averted a renewal showdown with the club and may have smoothed over the team's relationship with agent Scott Boras, whose contentious style during earlier negotiations appeared to alienate the Orioles front office.

This time, negotiations seemed to stall over a $20,000 difference between a club offer of $355,000 and $125,000 in incentives and McDonald's desire for a $375,000 base salary. A compromise was worked out in which the $20,000 difference was added to the incentive package.

"That's what it came down to," McDonald said. "I wasn't going to sit and squabble over that kind of money. I just said, let's get it done so I can go out and play baseball without worrying about all that crap.

"My agent called me and said, 'This is what it is,' and I just said, 'Let's get it over with.' "

McDonald is coming off a disappointing sophomore season in which he struggled with injuries and finished with a 6-8 record and a 4.84 ERA in 21 starts. He has opened each of the past two seasons on the disabled list, but came to spring training this year ready to pitch.

If he comes back to pitch well, he could command a major salary increase when he becomes eligible for salary arbitration at the end of the season.

Thirteen Orioles are left unsigned, including pitchers Mike Mussina, Jose Mesa, Arthur Rhodes and Todd Frohwirth, outfielders Luis Mercedes and Chito Martinez and third baseman Leo Gomez.

The contract renewal deadline is March 11. In each case, the club has the right to renew the contract at any figure it chooses, as long as it doesn't cut a player's salary by more than 20 percent.

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