Baines deal on or off by end of week Orioles, Athletics continue talks

January 13, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

If the Orioles are going to obtain Harold Baines from the Oakland Athletics, the trade is likely to be completed before the end of the week.

Neither club would discuss the potential deal, but Jack Sands, the Boston-based agent who represents Baines, said yesterday that talks had taken place.

"I can tell you that discussions are going on," said Sands, "and we'll probably know something within the next 24 hours. From what I've heard, I'd say the chances are better than 50-50 [that the deal will be made]."

In the past few years, the Orioles have had on-again, off-again interest in Baines, who was born in Easton and lives in St. Michael's on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The slugging, left-handed designated hitter was the No. 1 draft choice of the Chicago White Sox in 1977, when Orioles general manager Roland Hemond was working for the late Bill Veeck.

Baines, who had 16 home runs and 76 RBI last season (36 and 166 over the past two), filed for free agency but later accepted Oakland's offer of arbitration. By offering arbitration, the A's protected their right to a No. 1 draft choice as compensation if Baines had signed elsewhere as a free agent.

That, however, was before the team committed mega-dollars to Ruben Sierra and Mark McGwire and started looking to trim its payroll. Baines made $1.58 million last season, a figure that certainly would increase if he went to arbitration.

Signing Baines without going through the arbitration process is believed to be one of the contingencies to the trade, in which the Orioles would deal minor-leaguers.

"It's a three-party situation with Harold in the middle," said Sands. "I'm sure the Orioles would like to have him agree to something before a deal is made, but that's all I'm comfortable saying in that regard."

Sands said that Baines, who will be 34 in March, would welcome the chance to play close to home. "Let me put it this way: If Harold was going to go anywhere, the one place he'd like to go is Baltimore," he said.

The Orioles did not seriously pursue Baines when he filed for free agency because they didn't want to give up a No. 1 draft choice. The speculation is that the A's are looking for pitching depth, and Anthony Telford, Mike Oquist and Jeff Williams have been discussed.

All three are on the major-league roster, but Telford is the only one with limited big-league experience. Telford was 12-7 and Oquist 10-12 at Triple-A Rochester last year, and Williams was 8-10 at Double-A Hagerstown.

The A's likely have interest in left-hander John O'Donoghue (12-8 at Hagerstown and Rochester). But he is considered a candidate for the No. 5 spot in the Orioles' starting rotation, and the team probably would be reluctant to part with him.

Baines, a .286 lifetime hitter, would appear to be an ideal fit for the Orioles, who lack a left-handed run-producer to take advantage of the short right field at Camden Yards.

Although his career has been hindered by three knee operations that have reduced his playing time in the outfield, Baines has averaged 132 games in the past 11 years and close to 500 at-bats in the past five seasons.

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