Devereaux connects for $3.025 million Orioles avoid arbitration, sign outfielder for 1 year

January 30, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

The Orioles' most potentially divisive contract dispute of the off-season ended amicably yesterday when center fielder Mike Devereaux agreed to a one-year contract that will pay him $3.025 million plus incentives.

Devereaux appeared to be headed for an arbitration showdown when he filed for $3.6 million last week, but he compromised at a figure that was $275,000 more than the club's arbitration offer. The settlement assured that the friendly relationship between the team and its leading run-producer of 1992 would not be damaged by the negative fallout from an arbitration hearing.

"That was important to me," Devereaux said. "When you talk about arbitration, you go into a room and the club talks about all the negative things about you. It's a situation where if you can avoid the process, that's the best thing to do."

The club would have had to look pretty hard to find anything

negative to say about Devereaux this year. He came back from a solid 1991 season with a breakthrough performance in 1992. He hit a career-high 24 home runs, and his team-leading 107 RBI were one shy of equaling his total for the previous two seasons.

"I can't say that I went into the season thinking that I would end up with 100 RBI," he said. "I thought I could get into the 80s. Next season, I'm not going to try to do too much. I have to go in with the idea that 85-90 RBI is still a great season."

There was room to wonder if he went into arbitration asking for too much. His $3.6 million figure was more than the salaries sought by Minnesota Twins outfielder Shane Mack, who was coming off two strong seasons, and Montreal Expos outfielder Larry Walker, who hit .301 with 23 homers and 93 RBI.

Mack signed on Thursday for $3.05 million, which may have had an impact on the final stages of the Devereaux negotiations.

"I think it was a situation where we both knew where the midpoint was," Devereaux said. "We had an idea of what would be fair. Shane Mack signing yesterday definitely helped justify this."

Devereaux became the second arbitration-eligible Oriole to settle out of court. Teammate Brady Anderson filed for arbitration, but never got to the point of exchanging figures. He settled for a $1.855 million deal that more than quintupled his 1992 salary.

The Orioles are far from satisfied with the current system of player compensation, but they took care of their two most productive players without rancor. Devereaux and Anderson were the driving offensive forces in the club's surprising 1992 turnaround. Both were rewarded without contractual unpleasantries, something that also is important to the club.

"That's certainly part of it," Orioles president Larry Lucchino said. "That has historically been part of our attitude. You don't necessarily want to bash a guy on Feb. 16 and then on Feb. 20 tell him to come to spring training with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm.

"I have a favorite quote when it comes to something like this. All's well that ends."

The contract season is far from over for the Orioles. The club has one arbitration case remaining -- the one that probably looked the least troublesome when the process began. Relief pitcher Todd Frohwirth has asked for $1.15 million in arbitration and the club has offered $800,000.

His hearing is scheduled for Feb. 12, which means there is plenty of time to reach a settlement, but the Orioles seem confident that the number they submitted is an appropriate one.

"I think that our offer is a very reasonable one in light of comparable players," Lucchino said. "We think it is very fair."

Highest-paid Orioles

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The top salaries on the Orioles for 1993:

Player .. .. .. .. .. .. Pos. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Salary-x

Cal Ripken .. .. .. .. . SS .. .. .. .. .. ... $4.5 million

Glenn Davis .. .. .. ... 1B-DH .. .. .. .. .. $3.75 million

Mike Devereaux .. .. ... OF .. .. .. .. .. . $3.025 million

Gregg Olson .. .. .. ... P .. .. .. .. .. ... $2.25 million

Rick Sutcliffe .. .. ... P .. .. .. .. .. .. . $2.0 million

Brady Anderson .. .. ... OF .. .. .. .. .. . $1.855 million

x-Salaries are for 1993 only; they are not averaged over the length of contracts and do not include incentives or other bonuses.

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