Orioles outfielder Brady Anderson turned in a breakthroug performance in 1992, emerging as one of the best all-around players in the American League. Now, he'll be paid like one.
Anderson agreed to terms on a one-year contract yesterday that will pay him $1.855 million for 1993, more than five times what he made for a 1992 performance that included 21 home runs, 80 RBI and 53 stolen bases. The contract also includes awards incentives.
He earned $345,000 last year, but that was back when he was still a struggling extra outfielder who had not fulfilled the vast potential he carried into the major leagues four years earlier. Anderson figured to get a tremendous raise after he became the first AL player to have more than 20 homers, 80 RBI and 50 stolen bases in the same season.
The deal was announced on his 29th birthday, leaving room to wonder whether Orioles front-office officials are getting too sentimental for their own financial good. Lest anyone forget, the club handed shortstop Cal Ripken the largest contract guarantee in baseball history (at the time) on his 32nd birthday Aug. 24.
General manager Roland Hemond said that sentiment had nothing to do with it. Anderson, who had filed for salary arbitration, was in line for a big-time salary bump, and he got it.
"He had quite an improvement in his offensive game," Hemond said. "He had a fine year -- the type of year that we've been hoping for since we got him from the Boston Red Sox. This year, he put it all together. This is the type of player we thought we were getting when we made the deal with the Red Sox."
It had taken Anderson more than three seasons to establish himself in the starting lineup, but he made up for lost time last year. Manager Johnny Oates looked as if he was taking a major gamble when he handed Anderson the full-time leadoff role out of spring training, but it paid off better than anyone reasonably could have hoped.
Anderson appeared in 159 games and played a vital role in the club's 1992 turnaround. He batted .271, reached base 277 times (169 hits, 98 walks, 10 hit by pitch) and scored 100 runs. He also played outstanding defense in left field, but was crowded out of the Gold Glove picture by Kirby Puckett, Ken Griffey and Devon White.
The new contract makes Anderson the fifth-highest-paid player on the club. He ranked 18th among the 25 players on the major-league roster when the 1992 season ended.
"When a player makes a jump like that, it is usually because of superior statistics," said agent Jeff Boras, who represents Anderson with Dennis Gilbert. "Brady nearly set a record for RBI by a leadoff man. He just had a phenomenal year."
The Orioles apparently were eager to avoid going to arbitration with Anderson. The club considers the arbitration process a crapshoot and has a history of working hard to find a compromise that would keep the negotiating process in-house.
"I felt they dealt with us in good faith," Boras said. "They made every attempt possible to settle before we had to exchange numbers."
Today is the day that unsigned players who have filed for arbitration exchange salary figures with their clubs.
Club president Larry Lucchino said he expected to go to a hearing with at least one of the three players who filed, but the team still has two weeks to find compromises with outfielder Mike Devereaux and pitcher Todd Frohwirth.
Devereaux figures to get a tremendous raise one way or the other. He made $1 million for a 1992 season in which he shattered his career highs with 24 home runs and 107 RBI. The Orioles are expected to submit a figure of about $2.1 million. Devereaux probably will ask for about $2.6 million in arbitration.
Frohwirth, whose contract was renewed after a strong 1991 season, earned $265,000 last year. He had another strong year in middle relief (4-3, 2.46 ERA, 106 innings), so he also is headed into a much higher income bracket.