No GM in sight, O's turn to Thrift Player development director to represent team at GM meetings

Red Sox's Port withdraws

Few Ariz. deals seen, so Angelos in no rush

November 10, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

With the identity of the next Orioles general manager undetermined, director of player development Syd Thrift likely will represent the team at the GM meetings that begin Monday in Arizona.

Orioles owner Peter Angelos is mulling over a handful of GM candidates, after conducting interviews with seven men with a wide range of experience and qualifications. The three primary candidates appear to be former Montreal general manager Kevin Malone, former Detroit GM Joe Klein, and New York Mets scouting director John Barr.

Another possible interviewee is Florida scouting director Gary Hughes. Boston assistant GM Mike Port, interviewed last month, called the Orioles yesterday and withdrew from consideration, although he did not seem to be among the front-runners, anyway.

On Oct. 30, the day the Orioles announced the hiring of manager Davey Johnson, Angelos indicated he wanted to pick a general manager by the time the Arizona meetings began.

However, his search for a new GM has widened since then, complicating the issue, and like other executives in the game, Angelos may have picked up on the sense that few major moves, if any, will be made at the meetings.

Many clubs intend to wait to see what occurs with the labor negotiations before engaging in serious trade talks for big names, or plunging into the free-agent market.

Sources in both leagues say a majority of the teams will wait until late in the off-season -- once the going rates for players come down, as they did last spring -- before filling out their rosters with free agents.

Thrift has not interviewed for the Orioles' GM job, and all indications are Angelos is pleased with Thrift's work in the farm system and prefers to leave him in that position.

But at Angelos' request, Thrift has been serving, in effect, as an interim general manager, addressing contractual matters and taking phone calls from agents and other general managers.

Angelos called Thrift yesterday and asked him to represent the Orioles, alongside Johnson, at the GM meetings. Thrift was going there anyway, as a member of a Major League Baseball committee on player development.

Thrift said: "Davey and I will get together and talk to other clubs, and we'll evaluate everything that goes on. When the new general manager gets here, we'll sit down and talk."

They'll have some matters to address, such as:

* Free agents. One of the Orioles' GM candidates walked away from his interview with the strong impression the team intends to pursue outfielder Ron Gant and second baseman Roberto Alomar.

Johnson has made no secret of his fondness for Houston second baseman Craig Biggio and Chicago Cubs reliever Randy Myers, although others in the organization like Kansas City closer Jeff Montgomery (teams cannot formally begin negotiations with free agents from other teams until Monday).

* The 40-man roster. By Nov. 20, the Orioles have to determine which minor-leaguers they will add to their 40-man roster, which shouldn't be a problem as it was last year, when they left left-hander Vaughn Eshelman unprotected.

The Orioles currently have 10 spots open on their 40-man roster, and are expected to add catcher B. J. Waszgis, third baseman Scott McClain and pitchers Garrett Stephenson and Aaron Lane.

They also may consider adding Single-A shortstop Juan Bautista, or minor-league free agents such as outfielders Greg Blosser, signed earlier this week, and Joe Hall, likely to be added in the next few days.

The Orioles aren't alone in their methodic GM deliberations. Orioles assistant GM Frank Robinson, who interviewed to be the next GM of the San Diego Padres, was informed yesterday that the team may not make a final decision until next week.

Robinson is not a candidate to be the Orioles' next general BTC manager, and his contract expires Dec. 31.

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