Orioles' Melvin signs for 2 years, $1.5 million Could have been free agent after '91


The Baltimore Orioles moved to solidify their catching JTC situation yesterday, signing backup Bob Melvin to a two-year contract worth more than $1.5 million.

The announcement came the day after Mickey Tettleton, the No. 1 catcher, agreed to arbitration to determine his salary for 1991, assuring that he will remain with the team at least one more year.

Melvin, 29, will receive $650,000 for next season and $900,000 for the following year, according to terms announced by the team.

He would have been eligible for free agency after next season had he not signed a multiyear deal.

"We felt it [two years] was important with him entering into free agency," said assistant general manager Doug Melvin. "We've liked the job he's done handling our young pitchers. He's a good guy to have in your organization."

The pecking order behind the plate remains Tettleton, Melvin, Chris Hoiles and Jeff Tackett, currently playing in the Dominican Winter League.

"Whenever we had problems or injuries, he [Melvin] stepped in and did well," said Doug Melvin. "In fact, we had some inquiries from other clubs about him."

Melvin, a right-handed hitter, played extensively last year when Tettleton slumped, finishing with personal highs in games (93), at-bats (301), hits (73), RBI (37) and batting average (.243).

Considered an excellent game-caller and defensive catcher, he made only one error in 76 games behind the plate. That ended his string of 78 consecutive errorless games dating to September 1989.

Melvin was at his off-season home in Germantown, Tenn., and not available for comment.

Thirty-eight players have been tendered contracts, with Tettleton (who is filed with the Player Relations Committee because of arbitration) the only exception from the 40-man winter roster.

One spot is open.

* Doug Melvin said Tackett is "doing well" in the Dominican league, but the real success story is pitcher Francisco de la Rosa , who has a 7-1 record and leads the league with 44 strikeouts.

The Orioles added de la Rosa to their major-league roster this fall.

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