O's, Palmeiro agent in no hurry to meet

November 25, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

The agent representing Rafael Palmeiro said yesterday that he expected to meet with Orioles general manager Roland Hemond, but indicated there was no sense of urgency.

"All of this [negotiations] is in a very preliminary stage," Jim Bronner said from his office in Chicago. "Roland and I will get together, but I don't know when."

Bronner was in New York and Boston earlier in the week talking to the Yankees and Red Sox, where he apparently found only lukewarm interest. Hemond stayed in contact with Bronner, even during the unsuccessful negotiations with another free-agent first baseman, Will Clark. Hemond said he would set up a meeting either this weekend or early next week.

"I think a lot of teams held back because they thought Rafael was going back to Texas," said Bronner. That possibility seemingly ended when the Rangers signed Clark to a five-year )) contract worth a reported $30 million.

It is now up to the Rangers to decide by Dec. 7 whether they will offer arbitration to Palmeiro, a move they certainly would've made if they hadn't signed Clark. The Rangers must offer arbitration to receive draft-choice compensation if Palmeiro signs elsewhere.

In turn, as a last-resort bargaining wedge, Palmeiro could accept arbitration and force the Rangers to sign him for one year and then try to make a trade. That's unlikely, but some teams are likely to wait and see what the Rangers do. Palmeiro would become even more attractive if he were an unrestricted free agent who didn't require compensation.

The Orioles, however, don't figure to wait, because they've lost next year's No. 1 pick as a result of signing left-hander Sid Fernandez. Signing Palmeiro would require them to give up a second-round choice, and even though the Orioles would prefer not to lose their top two picks, they approached free agency willing to make that commitment.

"Rafael has always expressed interest in talking to Baltimore," said Bronner, "so we'll see what happens."

Bronner has been quoted as saying the Orioles and Yankees were attractive alternatives with the Rangers out of the picture. "Both are great possibilities," he told The Dallas Morning News. "They are both going to contend."

Bronner didn't indicate what kind of contract he was seeking, but it is expected he will use Clark's negotiations as a guideline. Asked if he was surprised at the numbers on Clark's contract, Bronner wouldn't say.

"I don't know yet what the numbers are," he said. "I've heard it's $30 million, but I've also been told the money is spread over 10 years without interest, which makes it somewhat less."

The Orioles backed out of the Clark bidding at $27.5 million for five years. New owner Peter Angelos won't say that's his limit, but it's not likely he'll go much higher.

While waiting to see how the Palmeiro negotiations play out, the Orioles are mulling the possibility of bringing back first baseman Eddie Murray. They also are continuing their pursuit of a trade for another front-line pitcher.

In Houston yesterday, Astros general manager Bob Watson said of the Orioles: "We've talked," "but there's nothing on the front burner with the flames up."

However, Watson didn't rule out the possibility of a trade involving right-hander Pete Harnisch. "Everybody has a price," he said. "If Baltimore wants to meet my price, then we can do something."

In San Diego, GM Randy Smith has said he'd have to be overwhelmed before trading Andy Benes, also a right-hander. But the Padres' fire sale last summer -- when they unloaded third baseman Gary Sheffield, first baseman Fred McGriff and pitcher Greg Harris as part of a cost-cutting drive -- indicated that San Diego has no untouchables.

However, an Orioles source said last night that talks with the Padres and Astros had cooled off.

Pagliarulo talks

Alan Nero, who represents Mike Pagliarulo, said yesterday that he had sent a counterproposal to a one-year contract that had been offered by the Orioles.

Pagliarulo came to the Orioles last August from the Minnesota Twins and hit .325 in 33 games.

The left-handed-hitting third baseman was one of the players who became an unrestricted free agent when the Orioles declined to offer arbitration.

Nero said three Japanese teams have continued to express interest in Pagliarulo and are scheduled to visit next week, pending the outcome of the Orioles negotiations.

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