O's rotation likely set, Gillick says Decides against trade of Wells or Erickson

January 05, 1996|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Ken Rosenthal contributed to this article.

Orioles general manager Pat Gillick indicated that he is satisfied with the club's rebuilt starting rotation, and is not actively pursuing a trade to make room for another free-agent pitcher.

Gillick left open that possibility when the Orioles traded outfielder Curtis Goodwin and prospect Trovin Valdez to the Cincinnati Reds for left-hander David Wells on Dec. 26.

He said then that he was open to a deal involving Wells or right-hander Scott Erickson because it would bolster the team's minor-league depth and free up money to sign another free-agent pitcher -- or re-sign right-hander Ben McDonald.

"When I said that a week or two ago, the thought going through my mind and probably [Syd Thrift's] mind was that we might trade somebody and then try to sign McDonald, but we really haven't pursued that," Gillick said this week.

Instead, he indicated that he is content to open the season with Erickson and Wells in the rotation, and with rookie Jimmy Haynes as the fifth starter. That means no serious attempt will be made to lure McDonald back unless another club initiates trade talks for one of the other starters. Gillick never says never.

"I said that if we did trade someone, it probably would be a right-hander," he said, "but I don't think we're going to trade anybody."

McDonald apparently has been negotiating with several clubs since he was left untendered by the Orioles. The $4.5 million salary he won in arbitration last year priced him out of Baltimore, because the Orioles were unwilling to ante up 80 percent of that ($3.6 million was the minimum salary he could be tendered to keep him from becoming a free agent) to renew his contract.

Most of the heavy lifting is over. Gillick still is pursuing a reserve outfielder and a solid defensive catcher to back up Chris Hoiles. The Orioles were unable to persuade former NL Rookie of the Year Jerome Walton to come to Baltimore, but may consider former Baltimore center fielder Mike Devereaux for the same role.

What appealed to the Orioles about Walton was his ability to hit left-handers for power. That also is one of Devereaux's strengths, but he would have to agree to come back as a part-time player, something he may be hesitant to do after having a solid offensive season for the Chicago White Sox and Atlanta Braves last year and winning MVP honors in the NL Championship Series.

Gillick just returned from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he met with the two players who defected from the Cuban national team and are negotiating with several major-league teams. The acquisition of two players of that caliber would improve the Orioles' organizational depth, but the Florida Marlins appear more likely to sign them.

nTC

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