Orioles set to deliver their pitch to Smoltz Likely Cy Young winner in NL will be pursued by many, including Braves

November 04, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

The Orioles intend to pursue free-agent John Smoltz, a source close to the pitcher said yesterday.

Smoltz, the probable National League Cy Young Award winner who led the majors with 24 wins last season for the pennant-winning Atlanta Braves, is generally regarded as the top free-agent starter available. Smoltz, who had a 2.94 ERA last season, rose to prominence with the Braves in the early 1990s and has a 114-90 record and 3.45 ERA since joining the club.

The source indicated Orioles assistant general manager Kevin Malone soon will speak with representatives for Smoltz. Malone could not be reached yesterday, and GM Pat Gillick said last week that Malone would handle any Orioles inquiries into the right-hander.

Smoltz, who filed for free agency last week, would seriously consider the Orioles, the source said.

Smoltz is likely to command one of the highest salaries in baseball when he finally settles on a team.

The Braves are scheduled to meet with Smoltz this week and have already expressed a willingness to keep the starter in Atlanta.

Smoltz teams with Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Denny Neagle to give the Braves the best starting rotation in baseball.

The Braves, who lost the World Series in six games to the New York Yankees, are loaded with young stars, and by keeping their pitching intact are a safe bet to stay among baseball's elite teams.

The Cleveland Indians, who are also very interested in Orioles free agent lefty David Wells, and a handful of other clubs are likely to pursue Smoltz seriously.

Pub Date: 11/04/96

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