Surhoff, O's narrow gap on 3-year extension Sides $1M a year apart

Orioles Notebook

Dodgers, Malone to talk

August 26, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO -- The Orioles have restored momentum to the 9-month-old negotiations with pending free-agent left fielder B. J. Surhoff, according to sources familiar with talks, and an agreement on a three-year extension may be possible within a matter of weeks if not sooner.

Majority owner Peter Angelos authorized a three-year, $12 million offer to Surhoff agent Greg Clifton late last week, narrowing what had been a gulf between the two parties. Surhoff has submitted a bid for three years worth $15 million with no money deferred.

The Orioles' latest bid comes to about $1 million less per season and also includes $1 million deferred each season without interest. In the final season of a three-year, $3.8 million deal, Surhoff is earning a $1.3 million base salary this season plus a possible $350,000 in appearance incentives.

While the delay has frustrated Surhoff, the modified offer seems to validate Angelos' contention that the club would make every effort to retain a player who has insisted he prefers to remain in Baltimore.

Of Angelos' stipulation that money be deferred, a source familiar with the talks insisted "that doesn't look like a deal-breaker." It's believed if the club budges on the extension's annual average, Surhoff will accept deferred money. While Surhoff's demand for $5 million per season has not changed, he may provide the club a "discount" if it compensates him in the same range as Boston Red Sox outfielder Troy O'Leary and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Jeromy Burnitz, both of whom signed three-year deals for about $13 million before this season.

Surhoff, hitting .283 and second on the club with 79 RBIs, insisted last month that "if I was in the room a deal would be done within an hour." He has felt a deal possible since spring training.

With last week's signing of infielder Jeff Reboulet and reliever Jesse Orosco, the Orioles have indicated they are willing to address a crush of pending free agents. Negotiations with designated hitter/outfielder Eric Davis also are continuing on at least a guaranteed one-year deal with an option for 2000.

L.A. to interview Malone

The Los Angeles Dodgers have asked for and received permission to interview Orioles assistant general manager Kevin Malone about their general manager post currently occupied by Tommy Lasorda.

Malone confirmed last night he will interview later this week but declined any further comment. However, Malone, a former Montreal Expos GM, also is believed among the most intriguing candidates for several pending vacancies, including the Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins and Seattle Mariners.

Current general manager Pat Gillick has given every indication of walking away from the club after his three-year contract expires after this season. Gillick also may resurface as general manager for another club.

"We are not prepared to discuss any personnel matters until they have reached their conclusion. There are families involved. At this point, I believe speculation is counterproductive," Orioles chief operating officer Joe Foss said last night. Foss and Angelos have met regarding Gillick's successor with Angelos classifying Malone as "the front-runner."

Otanez follows No. 8

Rookie right fielder Willis Otanez made his major-league debut a memorable one, singling through the middle off White Sox left-hander Tom Fordham in his first major-league at-bat.

Otanez, who went 1-for-3, was greeted warmly upon his arrival from Triple-A Rochester this weekend. Third baseman Cal Ripken was among the first to offer his congratulations to the player who hit .285 with 27 home runs and 100 RBIs as the Red Wings' everyday third baseman. Noticing that he was batting sixth, Otanez said, "It's even bigger because I'm batting behind my guy." Ripken batted fifth.

"I've always looked up to him," said Otanez, who was 9 when Ripken's consecutive-games streak began in 1982. "I began as a shortstop with only medium speed. He's the same way. He moved to third base. I moved to third base."

There, however, is where similarities end.

As Otanez unpacked his outfielder's glove, first baseman's mitt and infielder's glove, he referred to Ripken's presence at third, saying, "I knew it wasn't going to happen there."

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