Flanagan renews his bid to lure Guerrero

Orioles `talks are ongoing' despite holiday diversion

Baseball

December 30, 2003|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Mike Flanagan's Christmas break lasted one day, an abbreviated trip to New Jersey that ended with him back at the office, still trying to negotiate a deal that would put Vladimir Guerrero in an Orioles uniform.

"That's just the nature of the beast," said Flanagan, the club's vice president of baseball operations.

Flanagan spoke to Guerrero's representatives, Fernando Cuza and Diego Benz, twice during the weekend. The Orioles made an initial five-year, $65 million offer, and they hope to add Guerrero to a lineup that now includes shortstop Miguel Tejada and catcher Javy Lopez.

All the travel related to the holidays presents a challenge to anyone trying to track down agents and maintain lines of communication.

"A lot of normal people had a break," Flanagan said. "I'm kind of going forward and have been ready to go forward, but a lot of people are moving around. It's just hard to pin them down. But talks are ongoing."

The Orioles believe they still have the most enticing offer on the table for Guerrero - Flanagan wouldn't confirm whether it's been modified - and they are trying to persuade him to visit Baltimore.

"I think it's still a possibility," Flanagan said, "but I don't have a timing on it."

Meanwhile, the Orioles still expect to sign B.J. Surhoff before the Jan. 8 deadline.

Surhoff declined the team's arbitration offer, leaving a three-week window to continue negotiations.

It's believed the Orioles are trying to reach agreement with Surhoff on a minor league contract that includes a spring training invitation -- the same arrangement as last year.

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