O's sign Gomez to 1-year deal

January 11, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

While continuing to negotiate with Chris Sabo, the Orioles found time yesterday to sign their incumbent third baseman, Leo Gomez.

Despite hitting .197 and playing only 72 games last season, primarily because of a wrist injury, the potential of arbitration earned Gomez a 60 percent raise. Last year, on the basis of a .264 average, 17 home runs and 64 RBIs in 1992, Gomez earned $312,500. His contract for next year calls for $500,000, plus incentives.

"It was unfortunate that the wrist injury affected Leo last year," said general manager Roland Hemond. "He didn't say anything for a while, but finally admitted it affected his offensive performance and ultimately he had to have surgery [to remove a cyst].

"He showed good power the year before and hit 10 home runs in limited time last year. We're glad he's playing winter ball [in Puerto Rico] in preparation for the coming season."

However, whether he opens 1994 as the Orioles' regular third baseman, as he has done each of the past two years, may be out of Gomez's control. If the Orioles sign Sabo, Gomez almost certainly would be a prime candidate to be traded.

Hemond and Jim Bronner, who is Sabo's agent, talked again yesterday, but the status of the free agent remains unsettled. Mets general manager Joe McIlvaine said yesterday that he had made a third offer, but Bronner didn't indicate an agreement was imminent.

"We are continuing to talk to the Orioles and Mets, but we're not ready to make a deal yet," said Bronner. McIlvaine said his latest offer was "more about money than length [of contract]."

The Orioles and Mets have made similar offers for Sabo, who made $3.1 million while hitting 21 home runs and driving in 82 runs (with a .259 average) for the Reds last year. Both teams are believed to be offering a one-year deal between $1.5 million and $2 million guaranteed, plus performance bonuses.

On another matter involving the same teams, Hemond and McIlvaine talked again yesterday without getting any closer on a proposed trade for Bobby Bonilla.

Hemond wouldn't say that the discussions had hit a snag, but said the Orioles "have been concentrating on some other areas," with pitching continuing to be the main priority.

But McIlvaine told The New York Times that talks on Bonilla "seem to be going backward quickly. Their [the Orioles'] interest level, I think, has decreased significantly. They see a healthy [Jeffrey] Hammonds in their picture."

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