Encouraged Anderson seeks O's talks beyond opener No-trade clause key

talks on Mussina 'on serious hold'

March 28, 1997|By Ken Rosenthal and Peter Schmuck | Ken Rosenthal and Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The agent for Brady Anderson has submitted a counterproposal to the Orioles in response to the club's offer of a three-year contract believed to be worth fTC between $15 million and $16 million.

The two sides continue to discuss a variety of possibilities regarding a contract extension for the All-Star center fielder, and Anderson's agent, Jeff Borris, said they've agreed to negotiate beyond Opening Day, if necessary.

Orioles general manager Pat Gillick has indicated a strong desire to suspend all contract talks during the season, but also has shown a willingness to remain flexible, saying "nothing is etched in stone."

The Orioles also are trying to sign third baseman Cal Ripken and pitcher Mike Mussina to contract extensions to prevent them from becoming free agents, but talks remain stalled with both players.

Assistant general manager Kevin Malone said the two sides are still trying to determine Ripken's salary in a deal that is expected to be two years with a club option, while the Mussina talks are "not dead, but on serious hold."

The Orioles' first offer to Anderson last November was $4 million per season for two years. That's the same salary Anderson is earning this season in the final year of his three-year contract.

Borris had called the initial proposal "grossly under what the fair-market value is for a player of Brady's caliber, even if you take away the 50-home run season."

But the agent sounded a far more conciliatory tone last night.

"Conceptually, both parties know what it will take to sign Brady," he said of the nine-year veteran, who also had career highs in hits (172), runs (117) and RBIs (110) last season.

"Brady is willing to sign at a substantially discounted number because of his love for the team and the city of Baltimore," Borris said. "The question is whether that will occur before Brady declares his free agency."

Both Anderson and Malone said they do not expect to complete a deal by Tuesday, but Borris said Gillick's Opening Day deadline would not be a problem. Mussina and Ripken are opposed to negotiating during the season. Anderson is not.

"Brady said he encounters many distractions during the year, but he's able to turn it off like a light switch when he steps between the white lines," Borris said. "If things aren't settled, the parties have committed to each other that we will keep on talking even if the deal is not done by Opening Day."

Said Anderson: "I'm not sure if it'll get done by Opening Day. As I've said, I'm not opposed to going into the season to do it. The feeling I got from my agent is that I possibly could sign. I think it's serious."

Anderson said he has only one demand -- a complete no-trade clause. His current deal includes a limited no-trade clause that enables him to block deals to certain teams.

Malone said the Orioles are evaluating Anderson's request, but it is not expected to be an obstacle.

If he re-signs with the Orioles, Anderson will earn the right to block any trade 58 days into the 1998 season, when he acquires 10 years of major-league service, five with the same club.

That, in effect, is a no-trade clause, so Anderson would be covered except for next winter and the first two months of the '98 season. Borris said he doubts the Orioles would sign Anderson to trade him, but said the clause still must be included, calling it "a deal-breaking item."

"It must be no-trade," Anderson said. "There's a reason why I'm willing to sign before my free-agent year. It's because of my desire to play in Baltimore, and finish my career here.

"That's one thing that's non-negotiable to me. People should understand, the Orioles' front office should understand -- and I know they do -- that's the deal. That's why I'm willing to do the deal for maybe less years."

Anderson, like Mussina, has maintained that he is willing to accept a deal below market value to remain in Baltimore. He sounded optimistic about the resumption of negotiations.

"It's pretty cool the talks are going on," said Anderson. "That's pretty encouraging to me.

"I knew they'd eventually get to it. Cal's has gone on a long time. Mussina's has gone on a long time. Mine is basically just getting started. It could take a little while."

Pub Date: 3/28/97

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