FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Orioles have offered third baseman Cal Ripken a two-year contract extension that would keep his annual salary at its current level, $6.2 million.
The Orioles' proposal, according to sources familiar with the negotiations, calls for Ripken, a potential free agent after the 1997 season, to receive $6.2 million in 1998, $6.2 million in 1999, ,, with a $6.2 million option for the year 2000.
If the Orioles don't exercise the third-year option, Ripken, who turns 40 that summer, would receive a $1 million buyout. In all, the Orioles' proposal guarantees Ripken a total of $13.4 million.
Ripken's agent, Ron Shapiro, gave the Orioles a counterproposal this week, and while the specifics are not known, sources say Shapiro is seeking a three-year deal, all guaranteed, for around $7 million per year.
Using that average as a barometer, there would be about a $7 million difference between the proposals in guaranteed money.
Ripken, speaking generally about the contract talks yesterday, said, "I'm going to keep an open mind. Hopefully the negotiations can continue to go along. Then I can be assured my career will end in Baltimore."
General manager Pat Gillick, also speaking generally, said the talks "have been pretty positive."
Assistant GM Kevin Malone said: "At least it seems where we're at and where they're at, we're making progress. We're getting closer."
Gillick has said he wants to conclude all contract talks by Opening Day, April 1, and Ripken concurs. In 1992, Ripken struggled badly while Shapiro and the Orioles were negotiating a new five-year deal.
Ripken said he will stop all negotiating once the season starts. "In my opinion," Ripken said, "I made a huge mistake [in '92] crossing the business side and the playing side. I don't plan to do that again."
The major difference between the Orioles' offer and Shapiro's request appears to be the number of years guaranteed -- the same obstacle that helped sink the club's negotiations with ace pitcher Mike Mussina.
The Orioles offered three years and an option for a fourth year, and Mussina wanted a guarantee of four years.
Pub Date: 2/21/97