O's step up Bonilla hunt with 3-for-1 offer

December 29, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

The Orioles apparently are closer than ever to a deal that would send three players to the New York Mets for veteran outfielder Bobby Bonilla.

A club source said yesterday that the Orioles have offered to send outfielder Mike Devereaux, first baseman David Segui and relief pitcher Brad Pennington to the Mets to add Bonilla to an already improved lineup.

Bonilla, 30, batted .265 with 34 home runs and 87 RBIs last year for a last-place Mets club that is expected to rebuild from the bottom up. If the deal is finalized, he would move into the starting outfield alongside Brady Anderson and promising Jeffrey Hammonds.

The package of Orioles players appears to be acceptable to the Mets front office, leaving room to wonder why the deal has not been completed. The Orioles recently insisted on an extensive medical examination before signing free agent Rafael Palmeiro to a five-year deal, so there is the possibility that they will demand that Bonilla undergo a physical before committing to the remaining three years of his contract.

Bonilla signed a five-year, $29.5 million contract with the Mets after the 1991 season. The deal was front-loaded, so the Orioles will assume $14.5 million if they acquire him.

Rumors of a possible deal for Bonilla have been circulating for the past month. The Mets are trying to trade in some of their established stars for younger players and reduce their payroll. The proposed trade with the Orioles would not save them all that much salary in the exchange, but it would allow them to replace departed first baseman Eddie Murray, improve the bullpen and add a solid center fielder for about the same salary as Bonilla.

The Orioles would add another 100-RBI threat to the lineup and manager Johnny Oates would be able to move Anderson to center field, something he might do this spring regardless of Devereaux's status.

The acquisition of Palmeiro makes Segui expendable, and the unsteady performance of Pennington during the second half of the 1993 season makes him a likely candidate for minor-league duty to start next season.

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