Storm Davis returning to A's with 2-year deal Pitcher guaranteed $1.8 million

December 09, 1992|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

LOUISVILLE, KY — LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Storm Davis celebrated openly when he was reacquired by the Orioles at last year's winter meetings and said that his fondest wish would be to finish his pitching career in Baltimore. Yesterday, he was on his way out of town again.

The Orioles did not show much interest in retaining him when his contract expired at the end of the 1992 season, so Davis signed a two-year contract with the Oakland Athletics worth a guaranteed $1.8 million and at least $200,000 in incentives.

Davis won 19 games during a world championship season with the A's in 1989 but never re-established himself as a solid starting pitcher after he left the club for free agency after that season. He floundered with the Kansas City Royals for two seasons before the Orioles brought him back to the city where he began his career.

He spent a happy and moderately successful season in the Orioles bullpen last season, but the club did not offer him arbitration at the end of the season and did not make any concerted attempt to re-sign him during the past two months.

"The Orioles never made a formal offer," agent Ron Shapiro said. "Roland [Hemond] said if they made an offer, it would be for one year and at a lot lower salary than we got from the A's."

The A's, who loss of starting pitchers Dave Stewart, Ron Darling and Mike Moore to free agency, were willing to give him a two-year deal and a place in the starting rotation, so Davis decided to go west again.

The $900,000 average salary represented a significant pay cut from the $2.4 million he made last year, but he had to recognize that the free-agent market was too crowded to expect much more.

"First of all, it's an opportunity to pitch," Davis said during a conference call. "Since my departure three years ago, I've certainly missed the chance to pitch with a team that has won -- what? -- two or three division titles. Looking back, it would have been nice to have been there."

He said, however, that he didn't regret leaving Oakland, even though he suffered through two losing seasons with the Royals and did not start regularly in Baltimore.

"I don't know if regret would be the right word," he said. "I made a lot of friends in Kansas City, and this was a really fun year in Baltimore. Baltimore was fun for a season."

He proved to be a capable middle reliever last year, posting a 7-3 record and a 3.43 ERA, but the A's apparently have no intention of pitching him out of the bullpen.

"We don't anticipate him relieving," A's general manager Sandy Alderson said. "He'd like to start again, and that's the role we'd like to give him."

It was the third time in the past four years that Davis has been involved in a winter meetings transaction. He signed with the Royals at the 1989 meetings and was traded to the Orioles for catcher Bob Melvin last year. This move has to be the toughest, however, because he had hoped to settle permanently in Baltimore.

"They are going through some transition anxiety," Shapiro said, "but Storm is thrilled that a team that knows him so well concluded that he could be an important part of its future. Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan made a big push to convince him to come back."

* Meanwhile, the agent for free-agent outfielder Andre Dawson showed up at Hemond's hotel room door during last night's media briefing and stayed afterward to talk some business.

Dawson turned down a two-year, $7 million deal with the Chicago Cubs before Monday night's arbitration deadline, so it would appear that he is out of the Orioles' price range, but Hemond indicated that the club is willing to talk.

"We talked," Hemond said, "and we'll talk again."

Dick Moss indicated that Dawson had an interest in playing for the Orioles, but said that something could happen involving another club soon.

* The Orioles won't have to leave Louisville without making a trade. The club dealt minor league infielder Rodney Lofton to the Cincinnati Reds for pitching prospects Jason Satre and Reggie Leslie. Lofton was the club's 13th round draft choice in 1988. He has been assigned to the Reds Triple-A roster and will be invited to major league camp.

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