Ripken negotiations moving ahead again Two sides apparently target annual salary, third-year buyout figure

March 13, 1997|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Cal Ripken's negotiations for a multi-year contract extension with the Orioles are moving forward again, with the two sides attempting to reach an agreement to virtually ensure Ripken would finish his career in orange and black.

Orioles general manager Pat Gillick acknowledged yesterday that he'd been in recent contact with Ripken's agent, Ron Shapiro. "We've got a good dialogue going," Gillick said.

Asked if Shapiro or the Orioles had made new proposals in recent days, Gillick offered a small smile and replied, "Possibly."

The Orioles' last offer to Ripken was a two-year extension at his current annual salary -- $6.2 million -- with an team option for the year 2000, at $6.2 million; the Orioles would pay Ripken a $1 million buyout in the event they didn't exercise the third-year option.

Shapiro's last known request was a three-year deal, all guaranteed, worth $21.25 million: a $1 million signing bonus, $7 million in 1998, $6.75 million in 1999, and $6.5 million in 2000.

The two sides have been entrenched in their respective positions -- until this week. Now, apparently, they are negotiating in two possible areas in which they could find middle ground.

First, they could move closer in the value of Ripken's annual salary, somewhere between $7 million, Ripken's request for 1998, and $6.2 million, the Orioles' offer.

Secondly -- and more importantly -- they could negotiate a middle ground in the thorny issue of whether or not the third year of the contract is guaranteed. The Orioles could pay Ripken a larger buyout figure, more than the $1 million they are offering.

Ripken, 36, is eligible to become a free agent after this season, along with longtime Orioles Brady Anderson and Mike Mussina.

Pub Date: 3/13/97

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