Palmeiro brushes off 3-year, $21M O's offer 1st baseman wants 5 years, citing Erickson, Anderson

August 09, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Orioles have offered Rafael Palmeiro a three-year, approximately $21 million contract extension that the All-Star first baseman insists is too light and too brief to merit serious consideration.

While refusing to corroborate the terms, Palmeiro acknowledged the offer and reiterated his demand for a five-year deal, the same length given outfielder Brady Anderson last December and pitcher Scott Erickson in May. Palmeiro added that while he may give the Orioles a "discount" on average annual value, he intends to base the discount on a $10 million average.

"They set their own market with what they did with Brady and Erickson," Palmeiro said yesterday. "I'm just operating within that market."

Stressing that he is making no threat, Palmeiro insisted that if no deal is done by season's end, he will embrace the market. "If I'm still unsigned by then, I'd be stupid not to see what everybody had to offer," Palmeiro said. "Maybe it won't come to that. I prefer it didn't. But I'm ready to deal with it."

Palmeiro admits he considers his market the same as for Boston Red Sox first baseman Mo Vaughn, another pending free agent who has already rejected a four-year, $37 million proposal by his current club.

Palmeiro has publicly pushed for a five-year deal since last January. He has tempered his promise not to "do a Brady" and sign for below market value, but appears adamant about the five-year term. By offering a three-year deal, the Orioles seem to be positioning themselves for an eventual four-year compromise.

"It's got to be five years. Why shouldn't it be? Am I too old?" Palmeiro rhetorically asked. He would be 38 at the start of the final year of a five-year deal. Anderson will also be 38 at the start of his last season on a $31 million deal.

Last week's offer suggests a remaining gulf between the two sides. An organization source referred to it as "not a hard line, take-it-or-leave-it stance" designed more as a catalyst for talks that have languished since spring training. Palmeiro's push for a first-ever 40-home run season has increased his leverage though the market for high-dollar first baseman is not huge.

Palmeiro met with majority owner Peter Angelos for two hours last week but potential terms of an extension were not discussed. The offer, according to sources familiar with the process, was faxed to Palmeiro's agent, Jim Bronner.

During their meeting, Angelos stressed his commitment to retaining Palmeiro. Likewise, Palmeiro said he prefers to finish his career in Baltimore and backhands rumors that he is intrigued by a possible return to the Texas Rangers.

Pub Date: 8/09/98

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