Eddie Murray remains a former Oriole.
Murray and right-handed pitcher Dennis Martinez, another ex-Oriole, signedyesterday with the Cleveland Indians. The veteran first baseman agreed to aone-year contract for $3 million, with an option for a second year at the samefigure. Martinez received $9 million for two years, with an option for a thirdyear for $4.25 million.
Peter Angelos, the Orioles' new owner, had said he would like to seeMurray return to Baltimore. He expressed some disappointment at yesterday'snews, but said it would have no effect on the Orioles' negotiations with otherfree 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 happeningwith other players has no bearing on our plans," Angelos said withoutelaborating. "I think you'll find out we'll be able to fulfill the commitmentswe've made, as long as everything stays within reason."
The Orioles, while still in the market for another pitcher, had expressedonly minimal interest in Martinez, 39. Their discussionsabout Murray, who willbe 38 in February, never progressed beyond the preliminary stage.
From the outset, however, it appeared the Orioles didn't want to signMurray at the expense of Harold Baines, who was re-signed yesterday. "Harolddeserved every consideration," said Orioles general manager Roland Hemond. "Hedid everything weexpected of him."
Ron Shapiro, the Baltimore-based attorney who represents Murray andMartinez, acknowledged his talks with the Orioles never got serious.
"The Orioles are endeavoring to build their club, and Eddie was one of anumber of their possibilities," Shapiro said last night. "In the case of theIndians, Eddie was the only position player they were interested in, so itmade 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'tsign Eddie, they were going to trade for another hitter, so we took whatappeared to be the best option."
A fairly active market drove up the price for Martinez. The Indians, wholost bids to sign free-agent pitchers Sid Fernandez (to the Orioles) and MarkPortugal (to the San Francisco Giants), outbid the New York Yankees and TexasRangers.
Martinez made $2.5 million with the Montreal Expos last season, and Murrayearned $2.75 million with the New York Mets.
"I think this is a tribute to where our club is at, that we can offercontracts to Dennis Martinez and Eddie Murray and have them accept," saidIndians general manager John Hart.
Martinez was 15-9 with a 3.85 ERA last season. He is 208-165 in 16 seasonsand 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 andchallenge myself to do better."
He will be the No. 1 or 2 starter on a Cleveland pitching staff that wasripped apart by tragedy and injuries last season. Relievers Steve Olin and TimCrews were killed in a boating accident last spring, and Cliff Young died in acar accident after the season. Charles Nagy, their No. 1 starter, missed mostof the year because of arm problems.
Manager Mike Hargrove said Murray, who hit .285 with 27 homers and 100RBIs last season, primarily would be the designated hitter and would batfifth, 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 hispredecessor, Hank Peters, both former Orioles executives.
"I see a lot of people here who used to work for the Orioles," Martinezsaid. "Being with Eddie again would be a dream. We started in the minorleagues in 1974."
The Associated Press contributed to this articleCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun