Palmeiro offer a fine dessert? Wren contacts agent

upgrade may be next

November 20, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

Wednesday night's downtown dinner meeting between Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos and first baseman Rafael Palmeiro may have energized negotiations between the club and its free-agent offensive leader.

Palmeiro, one of the Orioles' six remaining free agents, and agent Jim Bronner left Baltimore yesterday morning with only a slightly modified four-year, $32 million offer that includes significant deferred money. However, general manager Frank Wren contacted Bronner later in the day, and a further upgrade may be imminent.

Describing the dinner at the Prime Rib as "very cordial," Bronner refuted suggestions of an impasse, insisting, "It wasn't the kind of meeting where bridges were burned at all. Both sides clearly left the door open."

How long it will remain that way is uncertain. The Boston Red Sox have extended a four-year offer, and the Anaheim Angels, apparently tired of waiting for Mo Vaughn to act on their six-year, $72 million proposal, have contacted Bronner. Texas Rangers general manager Doug Melvin insists he has yet to tender an offer to Palmeiro, but that could change if the Rangers' pursuit of Randy Johnson falls flat.

The dinner meeting -- hurriedly arranged at Bronner's request -- appears to have breathed life into what had become listless negotiations. Bronner admitted he had received "mixed signals" from the club in recent weeks but now believes the two sides have clarified their positions.

"The message that came through loud and clear was that they wanted him back. That was good to hear," Bronner said.

Wren also attended the dinner and verified a "constructive" tone.

"It certainly doesn't end anything," Wren said. "But I think it furthered the process."

Bronner has made a counteroffer to the Red Sox but has yet to receive their answer. It is believed the Red Sox are still attempting to re-sign Vaughn despite public statements to the contrary. Wren said earlier this week that the Orioles are not participating in the Vaughn sweepstakes.

Like most teams, the Orioles remain hostage to a shapeless market, gaining closer Mike Timlin while losing reliever Alan Mills and outfielder Eric Davis. None of the players expected to provide definition -- Johnson, Kevin Brown, Bernie Williams, Brian Jordan and Vaughn -- has signed. Wren, manager Ray Miller and director of player development Syd Thrift dined last night with Jordan and agent Jim Turner. The parties will have further talks today.

The Orioles lost out on reliever Scott Radinsky yesterday when the left-hander instead signed with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Wren continues to scour the market, maintaining that much of his effort has been devoted to names not yet publicized. The Orioles remain committed to improving themselves within the starting rotation and at catcher.

O's 40-man roster

The Orioles announced yesterday they have added five players to their 40-man roster: catcher Chip Alley, infielders Ivanon Coffie and Jesse Garcia, and pitchers Carlos Medina and Gabe Molina.

Pitchers (17): Armando Benitez, Darin Blood, Rocky Coppinger, Radhames Dykhoff, Scott Erickson, Chris Fussell, Juan Guzman, Doug Johns, Scott Kamieniecki, Medina, Molina, Julio Moreno, Mike Mussina, Jesse Orosco, Sidney Ponson, Arthur Rhodes, Mike Timlin.

Catchers (4): Alley, Charlie Greene, Chris Hoiles, Lenny Webster.

Infielders (11): Mike Bordick, Carlos Casimiro, Coffie, P. J.

Forbes, Garcia, Jerry Hairston, Ryan Minor, Willis Otanez, Calvin Pickering, Jeff Reboulet, Cal Ripken.

Outfielders (8): Wady Almonte, Brady Anderson, Harold Baines, Rich Becker, Danny Clyburn, Willie Greene, Eugene Kingsale, Lyle Mouton.

Pub Date: 11/20/98

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