The Orioles have declined to exercise their option on the contract of 40-year-old left-hander Mike Flanagan, apparently bringing an end to a long and impressive two-part career with the club.
General manager Roland Hemond had hoped to hold the announcement for today, but he confirmed late yesterday that the team had chosen not to guarantee the option year of the contract Flanagan signed on the final day of the 1991 season. The club still has the option of offering Flanagan salary arbitration by Thursday, but it seems more likely that he'll become eligible to file for free agency that day instead.
"He has been one of the stalwarts of the Orioles' pitching staff for a long time," Hemond said. "Everyone in the organization is grateful for everything he has done. We wish him well."
The club will make a more detailed announcement today, and Flanagan said last night that he would wait until then to comment.
"I don't think I can say anything until tomorrow," he said. "Roland and I have talked about this over the last three days. I've told him I'll wait until they make an announcement."
Flanagan spent parts of 12 seasons as one of the cornerstones of the Orioles' starting rotation. He was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in 1987, but returned in 1991 to make a successful transition to the bullpen. The 1992 season did not go as well. Flanagan finished the year with an 0-0 record and an 8.05 ERA, though most of the runs he gave up were concentrated in four of his 42 appearances.
Flanagan earned a base salary of $600,000 this past season. The club apparently did not want to guarantee a similar amount for next year, but there has been no word on whether he might be invited to spring training as a non-roster player. He had parlayed a non-roster spot into a regular relief role in 1991, making 64 appearances and ranking among the top relievers in the league in appearances and innings pitched.
He said at the end of the season that he hoped to come back in 1993, but there were signs that the club was not looking that far ahead. Flanagan and veteran catcher Rick Dempsey appeared together in the late innings of the last home game in what looked like a final curtain call.
Dempsey recently announced his intention to retire and possible accept a job in the Orioles' minor-league system. Flanagan probably could remain in some capacity also, but he may want to continue playing elsewhere.