Orioles, Devereaux agree on 1 year, $3.375M

February 12, 1994|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Writer

Center fielder Mike Devereaux avoided an arbitration hearing yesterday when he came to terms with the Orioles on a one-year contract worth $3.375 million plus incentives and a trade bonus.

Devereaux traveled to Chicago with agent Ray Anderson for a hearing to determine whether he would earn $3.95 million or accept the club's offer of $3.125 million, but compromised with the club just minutes before the case was to go before an arbitrator.

"Arbitration is a last resort," Anderson said. "You want to try and do something before that because the process doesn't leave the parties with the best of feelings toward each other."

The contract calls for the base salary to rise to $3.5 million if Devereaux is traded and includes a combination of performance and award bonuses that could push it even closer to his asking price.

"We're pleased," Anderson said. "Of course, it's a little less than we think Mike should make and I'm sure it's a little more than the Orioles felt he should make in their evaluation. We both reached a middle ground."

The Orioles were not able to do the same with reliever Alan Mills, who went to a hearing Thursday and lost his bid to triple his 1993 salary of $245,000. Arbitrator Morton Mitchnick ruled in favor of the club and awarded Mills a $500,000 salary, which represented a 104 percent raise.

"It's a tough process," said general manager Roland Hemond, who traveled to Chicago to negotiate with the agents for both players. "It's always nice if you can get it settled amicably."

Devereaux has flirted with arbitration in each of his three years of eligibility, but has come to terms short of a hearing each time. He earned $3.025 million for a 1993 season in which he batted .250 with 14 home runs and 75 RBIs. Those numbers represented a significant drop from his breakthrough performance the year before (24 homers, 107 RBIs), but his status as a five-year player dictated another raise.

His name surfaced in trade talk this winter because he is one year away from free-agent eligibility. That may have prompted the $125,000 trade bonus, but Devereaux apparently is not eager to leave Baltimore.

"Mike wants to remain with the Orioles and they have told us that they do not want to trade him," Anderson said, "but [the bonus] was a way of getting closer toward a certain value if he is traded. "He is looking forward to a strong 1994 season. He is greatly motivated to do well individually, both because he wants to help this team win and because, if he has to move on, it will put him in a stronger position to do that."

Hemond arrived in Chicago earlier in the week for the Mills hearing, so he took advantage of the opportunity to meet with Anderson late Thursday and continued negotiating yesterday morning. Anderson said the deal was struck about five minutes before the scheduled start of the hearing.

* The Orioles came to terms with three minor-league players on Thursday, signing first baseman Paul Carey, pitcher Kevin McGehee and outfielder Mark Smith to one-year contracts. The club has four weeks to get the rest of its minor-league and one-to-three-year players under contract before the renewal deadline.

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