Murray looking for way to stay He's willing to take less money, reduced role with Orioles

November 09, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

Eddie Murray wants to return to the Orioles, and he's willing to accept a reduced role and a reduced salary. That's what one of his representatives says he communicated to Orioles general manager Pat Gillick several days ago.

"We've made a proposal to them," said Michael Maas, who represents Murray. "Eddie would like to be back."

Murray, who will be 41 at the start of next season and has filed for free agency, rejoined the Orioles in a July trade, and his clubhouse leadership and production down the stretch helped propel the team into the postseason for the first time in 13 years. He hit his 500th career homer on Sept. 6.

But Murray, a switch-hitter, has gradually lost his effectiveness as a right-handed batter, and the Orioles probably will want Murray back as a left-handed designated hitter. Gillick said last week that Ron Shapiro, Murray's agent, indicated that Murray wasn't inclined to take a cut in his $2 million salary.

Maas, however, said the proposal on behalf of Murray suggested a reduced salary. He wouldn't say how much of a cut the proposal includes, but one Orioles source indicated last night it would be something less than $1.5 million and more than $1 million.

Gillick, in Arizona for the general manager meetings that begin Monday, could not be reached for comment. Assistant general manager Kevin Malone said he wasn't aware of the Murray proposal, but added that he didn't talk to Gillick yesterday.

Meanwhile, the list of free agents targeted by the Orioles continues to grow, and now it includes two pitchers who combined to beat the Orioles six times last year -- left-hander Jamie Moyer and right-hander Shawn Boskie.

Malone confirmed the club's interest in Moyer and Boskie yesterday. "We have interest, based on [our] belief in the old saying, 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em,' " said Malone.

Boskie went 12-11 with a 5.32 ERA for California last season. Moyer, who played for the Orioles 1993-95, began the year in a swing role for the Boston Red Sox, switching from the bullpen to the rotation. He was swapped to the Seattle Mariners before the July 31 deadline, moved into the rotation for good and thrived, finishing the season 13-3.

"I enjoyed Baltimore when I was there," said Moyer. "I enjoyed going back to Baltimore as an opponent, I enjoyed playing in the the ballpark. The pluses outweigh the minuses. In fact, there aren't any minuses, as far as I'm concerned."

Moyer, who said a handful of other teams have called to inquire about his services, has asked the Mariners about a multiyear deal. The Orioles let him go as a free agent last fall, after he went 8-6 with a 5.21 ERA.

"The biggest thing for me last season [with Seattle]," said Moyer, "is that I got an opportunity to pitch on a regular basis."

Many teams will be discussing trades and trying to re-sign their own free agents. But Malone thinks the chances are slim the Orioles will do anything immediately. They don't have the many players typically sought in trades -- players who are young, talented and inexpensive -- and they probably won't be ready to sign free agents until they know what the financial parameters are going to be.

The owners want more concessions from the Players Association before agreeing to a new collective bargaining contract, and if they don't get those, the two sides probably will continue to do business under the current agreement.

If the labor talks are fruitless, the Orioles will have two major and immediate decisions to make by Nov. 15 -- whether to retain outfielder Bobby Bonilla and pitcher Jesse Orosco by offering them arbitration.

The Orioles appear to be leaning toward keeping Orosco and allowing Bonilla to walk away. Bonilla said yesterday he isn't worrying about it and that he hasn't asked to talk to owner Peter Angelos, as he had suggested he would.

"I'm waiting on Baltimore," said Bonilla. "Baltimore holds all the cards, not me. There's nothing I can do. Whatever Mr. Angelos wants to do. I'm sure if he wants have something to say [to me], he'll call me. I wouldn't at all be surprised to hear from him."

Pub Date: 11/09/96

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