Food for thought for Orioles Return of Murray, Martinez interests Angelos, Hemond

M & M:

November 03, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

They may not be included in Plan A, but two ex-Orioles who were sent packing under less than ideal circumstances could figure into the club's plans for 1994.

The key word is could, but nobody has ruled out the possibility that Eddie Murray and Dennis Martinez might provide a short-term fit. Neither, however, appears to be near the top of the list of priorities at the moment.

While names such as first basemen Rafael Palmeiro and Will Clark, and pitchers Jack McDowell and Steve Farr, along with countless others, have surfaced as possible acquisitions via the free-agent or trade markets, none has emerged as a prime target for next year.

The Texas Rangers will be under heavy pressure to retain Palmeiro, the San Francisco Giants are in a similar position with Clark, Farr is a borderline gamble and the price for McDowell, in talent and dollars, figures to be exorbitant.

Still, new owner Peter Angelos remains adamant in his promise that the Orioles will be aggressive in their off-season quest to make improvements. "I don't advocate change for the sake of change," Angelos said yesterday, "but we're definitely going to take steps to improve the club."

When asked if Murray's name had been mentioned, Angelos said it had. "I brought it up," he said, "because his [1993] stats look pretty good."

But, while he seems intent on mending any fences that may have been broken in the past half-dozen years, and curious as to the reasons Murray left on such a sour note, Angelos made it clear he has a singular goal -- to improve the club he bought at auction for $173.1 million. His curiosity about Murray, who hit .285, with 27 home runs and 100 RBIs for the New York Mets last season, is directly related to that goal. There is little doubt that Murray would be an alternative, perhaps a viable one depending on circumstances.

General manager Roland Hemond, in Florida for annual meetings with his peers, admitted that both Murray and Martinez had been discussed, but wouldn't make any further commitment.

Ron Shapiro, the Baltimore attorney who represents both Murray and Martinez, was guarded about the possibility of either of them returning to their original major-league team. But he didn't rule out the possibilities.

"I haven't talked to Ron, but I did place a call today to get a feel for his thinking about some of his clients," Hemond said yesterday. "We've been contacted by some agents [representing free agents], but now we can only let them know if we have interest, we can't talk specifics."

The deadline for filing for free agency is midnight Friday. Untilthen free agents can negotiate only with their previous teams.

Shapiro said he thought any interest in Murray by the Orioles would depend on the status of veteran designated hitter Harold Baines. "I think there is such an attachment to Harold that the interest wouldn't be real serious," said Shapiro.

"Although I feel I could build a strong case for Eddie, my current intentions are to pursue other things." Shapiro seemed more optimistic, but still guarded, about the possibility of Martinez's returning to the Orioles.

"Baltimore is one of the teams on his list," he said. "It's certainly a situation we'll explore, if they want to explore it. Right now, my approach is to wait and see what [different] clubs want to do."

In anticipation of the coming free-agent activity, Hemond is trying to explore trade possibilities. "We've talked to 14 clubs in different dimensions," said Hemond. "We're trying to see where we stand and how we fit."

It very well may be that the Orioles' interest in Murray and Martinez could depend not only on their success with other free agents, but also on whether their former clubs offer arbitration. If they don't, then neither would require (amateur draft choice) compensation, a determining factor considering their ages.

Murray will be 38 in February. Martinez, who was 15-9 with a 3.85 ERA for Montreal last season, will be 39 in May. Both figure as short-term investments, which puts them in the long-shot category.

However, if Plan A misfires, don't rule out a possible return for either.

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