Three Orioles file for arbitration agreements don't appear close

January 16, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

For baseball executives entrusted with contract negotiations, this is their least favorite time of year.

With spring training less than five weeks away, the "arbitration blues" are dominating preparations for next season. And the Orioles are busily preparing for three cases they hope won't have to be heard.

As expected, Mike Devereaux, Brady Anderson and Todd Frohwirth beat yesterday's midnight deadline by filing for salary arbitration for 1993. They were the only remaining Orioles eligible for the process after Ben McDonald agreed to a $1.225 million contract last week.

Players with three years of service can ask to have an arbitrator determine their salary if they are unable to reach an agreement with the club. Each side has until Tuesday to submit a figure, and the neutral party must pick one. Hearings are scheduled throughout February.

"It [arbitration] is one of the harshest and most unpleasant facets of the compensation system," said Orioles president Larry Lucchino. "It's an area of the system that cries out for reform -- but, it's a fact of [baseball] life."

The Orioles do not appear to be close to an agreement with any of the three players. Devereaux earned $1 million last year and he and Anderson ($345,000) are coming off career years. Both figure to get hefty raises, as will Frohwirth, who made $265,000 in 1992.

"Right now we're preparing, as they are, to arbitrate their salaries," said Lucchino. "We always try hard to avoid arbitration, and our track record shows that we've been successful in that regard."

Bob Milacki, who won a $1.18 million judgment last year, is the only arbitration case the Orioles have had since Billy Smith lost in 1978.

"We work hard to avoid the agony of it," Lucchino said of the process, "but we're prepared to go if we have to."

Anderson is represented by Dennis Gilbert, one of baseball's highest-profile agents (Barry Bonds, Danny Tartabull). Devereaux is represented by Ray Anderson, and Frohwirth's negotiations are handled by Adam Katz.

Lucchino has had preliminary discussions about each of the players, but isn't close to any agreements.

Although he'd like to avoid arbitration, Lucchino isn't overly optimistic. "I suspect we'll be involved in one or two, and possibly all three cases," he said.

NOTES: General manager Roland Hemond acknowledged that Harold Baines' signing has eliminated Randy Milligan from the xTC Orioles' plans. "I called Randy and explained what we were doing," said Hemond. "He was very professional about it and said he could understand ourdesire to sign a hitter with the capability of Baines.". . . Of the six players either released or not tendered contracts, only IF Mark McLemore and P Mark Williamson figure in the club's plans for 1993. Williamson has been re-signed and McLemore again will come to spring training as a non-roster player with a good chance to make the major-league team. Milacki reportedly has rejected an offer from the Orioles, most likely as a non-roster player, and 2B Bill Ripken and DH Sam Horn still are waiting to see how the free-agent market will affect them.

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