Negotiations between the Orioles and Will Clark, which appeared to be moving smoothly yesterday afternoon, suddenly hit a snag last night.
"We broke off discussions, certainly for the night, and have no definitive plans to meet," said Jeff Moorad, Clark's agent who earlier in the day had been optimistic. "We broke down."
Both sides had been guarded after the first of two meetings yesterday, but the extent of the discussions was evidence that talks had reached a serious stage. After that early meeting, Moorad didn't say he felt a deal could be cut this weekend, but neither he nor general manager Roland Hemond ruled out the possibility.
"I'm here at Will's request to give the Orioles every opportunity to put something together," said Moorad. "We've had very friendly, but at the same time very serious discussions."
Asked if it was possible that an agreement could be imminent, Moorad said: "It's possible that they [the Orioles] can put something together that I would recommend to Will -- and then it would be up to him, the decision will be his to make."
When Hemond, who was unavailable last night, also was asked after the early meeting if an agreement was possible in the next 48 hours, he replied: "I really don't know."
Hemond, club counsel Lon Babby, Moorad and his associate, Scott Parker, met for 2 1/2 hours at Camden Yards yesterday morning. They talked again in the afternoon, when apparently the negotiations stalled.
"We had a real good, open discussion and shared a number of concepts," Hemond said after the initial meeting. "But there really isn't anything else I can say other than the talks are ongoing."
Moorad spent most of yesterday either in meetings or on the phone from his hotel room. He admitted that he had talked to Clark "about a half-dozen times" and that he'd also talked to other teams interested in signing the free-agent first baseman -- the San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies and Texas Rangers.
"We have an obligation to stay in contact with San Francisco," said Moorad. "And as a result I've talked to [general manager] Bob Quinn each of the last two days."
The Giants, who originally offered a three-year, $15 million deal, have increased their offer -- both in length and dollars. The Rangers reportedly are willing to go more than $25 million for five years to get Clark, but that remains speculation.
"Will was extremely positive about the time he spent in Baltimore [Thursday and Friday]," Moorad said. "It was his first opportunity to see the city and Camden Yards, and both made a tremendous impact. [That's why] I'm staying here this weekend."
Although both sides indicated the meetings dealt more with concepts than specifics, negotiations obviously stalled because of the dollars being discussed. At this point it appears that each side is trying to see how much the other will move.
Moorad didn't discount the possibility of meeting again with the Orioles, but he sounded as though the two sides had reached an impasse.
"I'm sure we'll talk again in the next couple of days," said Moorad. "But right now I'm not as optimistic as I was earlier [yesterday]."