Eddie Murray remains a former Oriole.
Murray and right-handed pitcher Dennis Martinez, another ex-Oriole, signed
yesterday with the Cleveland Indians. The veteran first baseman agreed to a
one-year contract for $3 million, with an option for a second year at the same
figure. Martinez received $9 million for two years, with an option for a third
year for $4.25 million.
Peter Angelos, the Orioles' new owner, had said he would like to see
Murray return to Baltimore. He expressed some disappointment at yesterday's
news, but said it would have no effect on the Orioles' negotiations with other
free agents, including first baseman Rafael Palmeiro.
"I would've liked to have seen Eddie hit in Camden Yards," Angelos said.
"I'll get that chance, but I wish him luck against everybody but us.
"I'm glad he made a deal he's comfortable with. . . . But what's happening
with other players has no bearing on our plans," Angelos said without
elaborating. "I think you'll find out we'll be able to fulfill the commitments
we've made, as long as everything stays within reason."
The Orioles, while still in the market for another pitcher, had expressed
only minimal interest in Martinez, 39. Their discussionsabout Murray, who will
be 38 in February, never progressed beyond the preliminary stage.
From the outset, however, it appeared the Orioles didn't want to sign
Murray at the expense of Harold Baines, who was re-signed yesterday. "Harold
deserved every consideration," said Orioles general manager Roland Hemond. "He
did everything we
expected of him."
Ron Shapiro, the Baltimore-based attorney who represents Murray and
Martinez, acknowledged his talks with the Orioles never got serious.
"The Orioles are endeavoring to build their club, and Eddie was one of a
number of their possibilities," Shapiro said last night. "In the case of the
Indians, Eddie was the only position player they were interested in, so it
made sense to do a deal.
"There was some sentiment for seeing Eddie finish his career in Baltimore.
But there was also some need to meet Cleveland's deadline. If they couldn't
sign Eddie, they were going to trade for another hitter, so we took what
appeared to be the best option."
A fairly active market drove up the price for Martinez. The Indians, who
lost bids to sign free-agent pitchers Sid Fernandez (to the Orioles) and Mark
Portugal (to the San Francisco Giants), outbid the New York Yankees and Texas
Martinez made $2.5 million with the Montreal Expos last season, and Murray
earned $2.75 million with the New York Mets.
"I think this is a tribute to where our club is at, that we can offer
contracts to Dennis Martinez and Eddie Murray and have them accept," said
Indians general manager John Hart.
Martinez was 15-9 with a 3.85 ERA last season. He is 208-165 in 16 seasons
and one of only seven to win 100 games in each league.
"People say when you get to your late 30s, you have to be concerned,"
Martinez said. "I think I feel better every year because I prepare myself and
challenge myself to do better."
He will be the No. 1 or 2 starter on a Cleveland pitching staff that was
ripped apart by tragedy and injuries last season. Relievers Steve Olin and Tim
Crews were killed in a boating accident last spring, and Cliff Young died in a
car accident after the season. Charles Nagy, their No. 1 starter, missed most
of the year because of arm problems.
Manager Mike Hargrove said Murray, who hit .285 with 27 homers and 100
RBIs last season, primarily would be the designated hitter and would bat
fifth, behind Albert Belle.
He was not sorry to leave the Mets. Asked why he chose Cleveland, he said:
"Any club would have done. I do look for a calmer locker room this year."
The organization has a Baltimore flavor, having been built by Hart and his
predecessor, Hank Peters, both former Orioles executives.
"I see a lot of people here who used to work for the Orioles," Martinez
said. "Being with Eddie again would be a dream. We started in the minor
leagues in 1974."
The Associated Press contributed to this article
Former Orioles Murray, Martinez sign with Indians
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