Orioles right fielder Bobby Bonilla may not be a free agent after this year because of the players strike that cut short the 1994 season and cut into the 1995 season.
According to the Repeater Rights clause in the expired Basic Agreement between players and owners -- the two sides still operate under these rules -- a player cannot file for free agency twice within five years of major-league service. Bonilla signed a five-year contract with the New York Mets as a free agent after the 1991 season, and had there been no work stoppage, he'd be eligible for free agency after this year.
However, the strike cut into service time, and, as it stands, Bonilla will have less than five years' service since his last free agency, and won't be able to file for free agency after this year. The Orioles will have the option of retaining him merely by offering arbitration for the 1997 season (Bonilla makes $4.6 million for this year).
Bonilla's status could change if the owners consent to restore the lost service time under the next Basic Agreement, something the players association says must be done to achieve labor peace.
But time is short for Bonilla: Players must file for free agency next month.
Pub Date: 10/07/96