Olson's agent expects reliever to sign soon

February 07, 1994|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Writer

Free-agent reliever Gregg Olson probably will sign a contract by tomorrow, and he appears to be leaning away from the Orioles, though the club has not given up hope of persuading him to stay.

Agent Jeff Moorad said yesterday that he was in contact with the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Atlanta Braves during the weekend, but he would not say which club was most likely to sign the Orioles' all-time save leader.

Olson worked out for Yankees officials on Friday, and they are believed to be seriously involved, despite a lukewarm appraisal of the audition by Yankees general manager Gene Michael. Michael apparently has spoken with Moorad on several occasions since the workout.

"I think we're on track to close a deal in the next couple of days," Moorad said yesterday from Honolulu, where he was visiting several of his NFL clients during a weekend of Pro Bowl festivities. "We're still working with the same teams, fine-tuning the position of each team."

Moorad spoke with Orioles general manager Roland Hemond for the first time in more than a week yesterday.

"I just updated Roland on our position with the other teams," Moorad said. "We agreed to talk again in the next day or two."

The Orioles have maintained that they would like to re-sign Olson, who was not tendered a contract in December because of questions about his injured right elbow. He suffered a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and pitched just once in the final two months of the 1993 season -- raising the specter of radical elbow surgery -- but recent medical reports have been encouraging.

Nevertheless, the Orioles have been unwilling to offer more than a one-year, incentive-laden contract. Club sources have confirmed that the team would like Olson to accept a $1 million guarantee with incentive clauses that could push him toward $3 million if he remained healthy all year.

"We'd like to see him come back," owner Peter Angelos said. "We have a very strong interest in him as a player and as a person. If we can be instrumental in getting him back to his level of ability and performance, that's what we want to do. We'd like to help him be where he wants to be."

In essence, the Orioles are asking him to take less, and they will help him get in position to make his big free agent score a year from now. There is some logic there, because newly acquired closer Lee Smith may be only a one-year stopgap solution for the Orioles bullpen.

Moorad has indicated that he will get back to the Orioles before he accepts an offer from another club, but he stopped short yesterday of saying that he has promised them the right of first refusal.

It seems unlikely Olson will agree on a contract today, because Moorad is expected to spend much of the day traveling home from Hawaii. He hinted that a final decision more likely would come tomorrow.

There isn't much time to waste. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report for early spring training workouts late next week, so the time has come for Olson to decide where he'll be going for spring training.

Olson could not be reached for comment yesterday, but he has said he is confident he'll be ready to pitch in short relief on Opening Day. By Michael's estimate, Olson threw only at about 65 percent on Friday.

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