Frohwirth agrees to contract Pitcher 3rd Oriole to skip arbitration

February 10, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

Orioles relief pitcher Todd Frohwirth decided to pass up his day in court. He agreed to terms on a one-year contract yesterday that will pay him $900,000 plus incentives, averting an arbitration hearing that was scheduled for Friday.

Frohwirth was the last of three arbitration-eligible Orioles to agree to a contract, even though he was dealing in a far lower salary range than teammates Brady Anderson and Mike Devereaux. Anderson signed for $1.855 million soon after filing for arbitration. Devereaux agreed to a one-year deal worth $3.025 million two weeks ago.

Nevertheless, Frohwirth's $1.15 million asking price in arbitration became a point of contention for the Orioles, who contended that their offer of $800,000 was a fair-market price for a middle reliever of Frohwirth's ability and statistics.

"I wouldn't characterize the negotiations as friendly," said agent Adam Katz. "The Orioles filed their number with an eye toward going to trial and winning. We had some philosophical differences."

The compromise that was reached left Frohwirth's base salary closer to the Orioles' offer, but includes incentives that will give him a chance to narrow the gap between that offer and his asking price.

"I think the matter got settled at that figure because the other side came to recognize the strength and fairness of our position," club president Larry Lucchino said. "As you can see, the base salary is well below the [midpoint between the two bids]."

Frohwirth was not complaining. Two years ago, he was a seven-year minor-leaguer with a clouded future. This season, he can earn close to $1 million.

"We tried to come up with a number that other guys on the same level as me were making, and that was enough," Frohwirth said. "I wasn't trying to get more than that. I knew that no matter what happened, I was going to get a lot of money. It's more money than I thought I was ever going to make anyway."

Frohwirth was 4-3 with a 2.46 ERA in 65 games last year, leading the Orioles in appearances and leading the American League in relief innings pitched (106). In 1991, he came to the Orioles as a minor-league free agent and then came up from Rochester to post a 7-3 record and a 1.87 ERA.

His contract was renewed at $265,000 last spring, when Frohwirth was unable to reach a compromise with the club, but Katz said there was no connection between that contract dispute and the difficult negotiations this year.

"I wouldn't say so," he said. "That was the hammer that they had last year, and they weren't the only club to use it. Arbitration gives the player a little more leverage."

"We avoided a corrosive process," Lucchino said. "If that helps him [Frohwirth] come into the season in a positive frame of mind and perform well, then we will be pleased."

This contract doesn't bring an end to the off-season business cycle, however. The Orioles still have a number of contracts to negotiate with their one- to three-year players, including 18-game winner Mike Mussina and catcher Chris Hoiles.

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