With Sabo's price falling, O's might be interested

December 17, 1993|By Jim Henneman

With compensation no longer a factor and the free-agent market remaining relatively soft, the Orioles may have renewed interest in Chris Sabo.

The former Cincinnati Reds third baseman, who has been hampered by a back problem, was in New York yesterday for a physical examination. The Mets are believed to be one of three teams to have expressed some interest.

A source close to the situation said that the Orioles have talked about Sabo, but "no offers have been made." Sabo is represented by Jim Bronner, the Chicago-based agent who last week negotiated a $30.35 million contract with the Orioles for Rafael Palmeiro.

It was during those negotiations that Sabo's name again surfaced. Last summer, after third baseman Leo Gomez was sidelined with a wrist injury, the Orioles considered making a deal for Sabo.

Sabo's impending free agency and questions about his physical condition made trade talks brief. The situation was much the same after the right-handed hitter declared for free agency.

However, after Sabo rejected a $6.4 million, two-year offer on Oct. 1 and later a one-year deal for $2.5 million, the Reds declined to offer arbitration, making him an unrestricted free agent who doesn't cost a draft choice.

In addition to the Mets, the Montreal Expos also are interested in signing Sabo, but neither team is believed willing to top the figures previously offered by the Reds. According to sources, Montreal general manager Dan Duquette said a $2 million contract, plus incentives, would be too expensive.

It now seems that Sabo will have to accept an incentive-laden contract for much less than the money offered by the Reds. In that scenario, the Orioles might enter the picture.

* Yesterday, the Orioles put reliever Mark Eichhorn on the major-league roster.

Eichhorn, a right-hander, and veteran catcher Rich Gedman accepted free-agent contracts with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings on Tuesday. Eichhorn was guaranteed a spot on the major-league roster before Opening Day, and it didn't take the Orioles long to create an opening.

Jeff Williams, 24, a right-hander who was the Orioles' third draft choice in 1990, was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Eichhorn.

The Orioles have 10 days either to make a deal for Williams or ask waivers for the purpose of outrighting him to Rochester.

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