No word on Molitor joining Anderson DH weighing decision as O's set to announce return of center fielder

December 08, 1997|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

The Orioles will announce the re-signing of outfielder Brady Anderson to a five-year, $31 million contract this afternoon. Whether the 3: 30 p.m. news conference will also be used to announce the acquisition of designated hitter Paul Molitor remained a mystery last night.

Having narrowed his choices to the Orioles, Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays, Molitor met in Minneapolis with agent Ron Simon last night to consider a decision that will also have a bearing on whether the Orioles will offer arbitration to free-agent Harold Baines.

The Orioles are believed to have offered Molitor, 41, a one-year deal worth about $4 million. Baines earned $1.925 million last season.

Regardless of their DH situation, the American League East champions will not have to seek another outfielder.

Majority owner Peter Angelos avoided a nuclear winter for his franchise by retaining Anderson only hours after the Cleveland Indians expressed an interest in the three-time All-Star.

"[Angelos] always assured me I was coming back. But there were certain times I started to wonder. The one thing I wanted was a long-term deal. My thinking was: How bad do they really want me if they won't commit to that?" Anderson said.

Last spring, Anderson sought a three-year, $18 million contract, but received a counteroffer of $15 million. Saturday night's agreement provided him an average salary of $6.2 million, along with greater deferred money. Angelos at first sought to defer $1.25 million annually, but the figure grew to $1.5 million for each of the first four years.

The Indians -- now apparently prepared to bring back the devalued Kenny Lofton -- offered Anderson a four-year, $28 million package on Saturday. Anderson said it was the first time he felt a sense or urgency in negotiations.

"I had never felt that urgency before," Anderson said. "At that point, I knew it had to get done. I felt he knew it, too."

Anderson stopped short of saying he was prepared to accept the Indians' offer. His agents, Dennis Gilbert and Jeff Borris, scrambled to put together a counteroffer.

Meanwhile, Anderson unsuccessfully tried to reach Angelos for about an hour before finally reaching the owner at his home. The two spoke for about 45 minutes. A deal was struck when Angelos agreed to bump the deal $1 million.

"It all took place so quickly. For all the times we got so close, all of a sudden we were there," said Anderson, who had pushed for $6.25 million per year.

Though the Indians and Atlanta Braves offered Anderson more, he was handsomely rewarded for waiting to sign until after the season.

"I didn't change the money," Anderson said. "What I basically changed was the length of the contract," from three to five years.

The contract is the richest ever rewarded an Orioles player and involves a significant commitment beyond its financial terms. Next May, Anderson will possess enough continuos tenure within one league and with one team to veto any trade. The Orioles thereby granted him a de facto no-trade clause. Given Anderson will be 38 when the contract expires, Angelos has shown tremendous faith in the outfielder.

General manager Pat Gillick projected Jeffrey Hammonds as Anderson's replacement, but the notion did not satisfy the organization.

Asked his worry level regarding Anderson's negotiations, manager Ray Miller conceded: "It was a huge concern. If you lose him, your immediate action is to replace him before you can improve the ballclub. Brady represented over 200 runs in '96 and 170 runs in '97. I figure he's worth close to 200 runs next season. Offensively, it would have been a huge loss."

Aside from Molitor, the Orioles now gear themselves for lesser problems. Friday's signing of Scott Kamieniecki to a two-year, $6.1 million deal allows them to scour the market for a lower-priced fifth starter. Free agents Orel Hershiser and Doug Drabek represent possibilities. The Orioles also still seek another relief pitcher and have made a preliminary inquiry about free agent Rod Beck.

Pub Date: 12/08/97

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