Signing both Myers, Anderson less likely Malone: Closer best bet to return in open market

November 12, 1997|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

Free agents were greeted by the open market yesterday with the Orioles no longer speaking confidently of their ability to re-sign both center fielder Brady Anderson and closer Randy Myers.

While Anderson's return once seemed a foregone conclusion, assistant general manager Kevin Malone said he now believes it more likely the club will hold onto Myers. Malone insisted the club will not make Anderson its highest-paid position player by exceeding the $7.25 million awarded Cal Ripken. Asked if he believed owner Peter Angelos is prepared to make Anderson a $7 million player, Malone answered negatively.

Other organizational sources concede the point while maintaining the two are unrelated. The Orioles still believe they can sign both players.

Anderson's agent, Jeff Borris, said yesterday he expects his client to sign between Tuesday's expansion draft and Thanksgiving, a window of eight days. Borris described yesterday's talks with teams as "a lot of first dates, a little romance but no action."

Anderson has spoken several times with Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos in the past week but no movement has occurred in negotiations. Meanwhile, the center fielder has become a priority to several other teams.

The Orioles' latest offer to Anderson was a four-year, $23 million package including deferred money. Anderson dismissed the offer last summer and asked for an option year to be added with a $2 million buyout. Angelos was irritated that he had unilaterally offered Anderson a fourth year only to have the player return for more.

Anderson's representatives believe other teams will begin their bidding around $7 million. Though Anderson still maintains the Orioles enjoy a "home-field advantage" whereby he will re-sign for less, that number is escalating.

The Orioles can't take comfort in Anderson's suitors, either. The well-monied Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees are believed to have the greatest interest while the Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners also have suggested they will make offers.

Yankees owner and Angelos antagonist George Steinbrenner is furious over incumbent center fielder Bernie Williams' demand for an extension paying him $10 million to $11 million per season and is prepared to end negotiations.

The Orioles have yet to make an offer to Myers, a Washington resident who has piqued the Seattle Mariners' interest as well.

Yesterday manager Ray Miller said one of his first actions was to call Myers and Anderson. Myers flourished under Miller last season, converting 45 of 46 save opportunities and winning AL reliever of the year honors. However, he also is believed to be seeking a three-year contract worth more than $5 million per season. Malone said the Orioles would like to sign three free agents, at least one a pitcher and a hitter.

The Orioles have pressed their interest for free-agent pitcher Darryl Kile, whom they project as a possible No. 2 starting pitcher. Kile, along with Andy Benes and Wilson Alvarez, is the DTC most attractive arm in a down market for pitching. Designated hitters Paul Molitor and Chili Davis are also high on their list.

Malone conceded the team hopes to improve its catching situation, but probably will address the need through trade. The Braves recently offered backup catcher Eddie Perez for relief pitching but were turned away.

Pub Date: 11/12/97

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