O's pitches come in low, so free agents laying off Team waiting on labor vote before increasing any offers @

November 24, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

The Orioles have made contract proposals to at least two free agents, and in both cases were told their offers were too low.

Assistant general manager Kevin Malone said the team has made a "handful" of proposals to free agents, and the Orioles have confirmed contract overtures to starter Kevin Tapani and reliever Mike Jackson.

Tapani, 32, made $1.1 million with the Chicago White Sox last year. The right-hander compiled a 13-10 record and 4.59 ERA, but gave up 34 home runs. The Orioles were expected to make an offer to right-hander Jaime Navarro, 28, on Friday as well, but Malone said they have backed away from him.

"We heard back from [Tapani's] sports representative and they said our proposal was very light," Malone said, "meaning they are really looking for more in the financial aspects.

"The indications are our proposals to sports representatives are a little on the light side. That's what we're hearing."

Jackson's agent said Friday that the Orioles' proposal was not in the "same ballpark" as what he's looking for and he expects Jackson will sign elsewhere.

Some baseball statistical sources rate Jackson, 31, among the top six relievers in the league, and he appeared in 73 games with the Seattle Mariners last year after an injury-marred 1995 campaign. However, the right side of the bullpen should be one of the Orioles' strengths next year even if they don't land Jackson.

Malone said the club is waiting until Tuesday's owners meeting, where the possibility looms for a second vote on a bargaining agreement, before deciding to increase any of their proposals.

If the owners were to approve the proposal, players such as Chicago White Sox right-hander Alex Fernandez and Oakland Athletics shortstop Mike Bordick would become free agents, and the Orioles are interested in both. That could alter their pursuit of the other right-handers, and shortstops such as Texas Rangers free agent Kevin Elster.

"We'll see what happens Tuesday and then make a decision on if we want to improve on some of the proposals we've made," Malone said.

"Other guys could become available, so we'll have to see in which direction the market is going. Even though we stepped it up a notch this week, we're still evaluating the situation."

Malone and GM Pat Gillick will be in Texas tomorrow to meet with free-agent center fielder Darryl Hamilton, and Gillick said they expect to meet with more free agents in the coming weeks.

Pub Date: 11/24/96

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