Mussina's choice: sign now, later

March 03, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Right-hander Mike Mussina may soon be knee-deep in a volatile contract situation, but he seems more interested in looking at the big picture.

There is some question whether he'll be rewarded for his spectacular 1992 season with a multi-year contract or be forced to settle for a one-year renewal. But he says he doesn't know if it matters all that much in the greater scheme of things.

"Things are changing," Mussina said, "and I don't know if they are changing for the better. You don't know if there is going to be arbitration a year from now. You don't know if there will be a salary cap or revenue sharing. The way I look at it, you don't spend too much money at this point.

"I think that most guys are watching their money right now, figuring that we might not be teeing it up next April."

In the meantime, however, Mussina must worry about what happens this year -- or, more importantly, this week. He has until March 11 to come to an agreement with the Orioles on a new

contract or face the prospect of automatic renewal.

Beginning his second full season, Mussina, 24, is sure to earn more than his $137,500 base salary of last season, which was less than $30,000 above the league minimum of $109,000.

The Orioles apparently put a three-year proposal on the table recently, but Mussina said yesterday he wasn't sure if it was still a possibility. He would like the security of a multi-year deal, but he knows the rewards will be greater if he continues to put up the kind of numbers he amassed in 1992 (18-5, 2.54 ERA, 241 innings).

"I'm anxious to get it resolved," he said. "I'm not worrying about it. I'm not that involved in it yet. I had never really thought much about making money playing baseball."

It is something he will have to start thinking about soon. Agent Arn Tellum is scheduled to arrive in camp on Monday to try to work out a deal before the renewal date.

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