Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina agreed to a two-year contract yesterday for $6.925 million, but he may get an another one or two years added to the deal -- perhaps within the next few days.
Orioles club counsel Russell Smouse and Mussina's agent, Arn Tellem, agreed to the two-year deal in a 20-minute conversation yesterday morning, $2.925 million for this year and $4 million for 1996. With all of their players now under contract for 1995, the Orioles' payroll stands at $42,023,190.
However, Smouse and Tellem continued to talk about the idea of adding a third year, 1997, plus an option for 1998. The third year probably would be worth between $4 million and $4.5 million, and the option year in the range of $4.5 million to $4.8 million, with a $500,000 buyout.
Giving Mussina the third year at that rate makes sense for the Orioles for this reason: Earlier this week, the Orioles lost an arbitration case to Ben McDonald for $4.5 million, and Mussina, who has a better track record than McDonald, would figure to earn more in arbitration (assuming that arbitration is still used in 1997).
But even if the two-year deal isn't extended, both sides seem happy to get the contract settled amicably.
"It's something you'd like to get out of the way," said Mussina, who gets a raise of more than $2 million over his 1994 salary of $750,000. "It worked out best for both of us. . . . It was done very professionally on both sides. If you want to have a long-standing relationship, that's the only way to do it."
Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said, "Mike handled it very well throughout -- he still performed well while [negotiations] were going on."
The players' strike prevented arbitration cases from being heard during the off-season, pushing the proceedings into the regular season for the first time.
"I hope we never see that again, for everybody's sake," said Hemond. "I wouldn't want that for the players. Certainly it's distracting."
Mussina's arbitration hearing had been scheduled for June 22.
Van Slyke set for minors stint
Center fielder Andy Van Slyke, eligible to come off the disabled list in time for the Orioles' series at Detroit that begins next Friday, will report to Double-A Bowie tomorrow for the start of a three-game rehabilitation assignment.
He'll play two games for the Baysox, and then play for Single-A Frederick on Wednesday.
"It's the best thing for me," Van Slyke said. "Taking batting practice in Cleveland [Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday] won't me any good."
Van Slyke aggravated a muscle strain in his forearm May 29 and was placed on the disabled list three days later. Curtis Goodwin has played exceptionally well in his place, and the rookie will remain in the lineup for now, said manager Phil Regan.
How will Van Slyke be used?
"In a lot of ways," said Regan. "Andy can play left field, he can play center and right, he could be a designated hitter. We can use him -- it's a long year.
"I can't tell you right today exactly how I'm going to use him, whether as a hitter off the bench or what. But we'll use him."
Goodwin's vision to be corrected
In his first half-dozen games with the Orioles, Goodwin looked unsure of himself in center field, his first step usually going in the wrong direction. The Orioles hope they have found the source of the problem: Goodwin's eyesight.
Goodwin's eyes weren't tested in spring training before he was sent to Triple-A Rochester, but they were this week, and the rookie is getting a prescription filled to correct his vision.
"I don't know whether he's going to wear contacts or glasses or what," said Regan.
The manager said Goodwin has needed time to learn how to pick up the ball in a triple-decked stadium. The Orioles have been having Goodwin practice picking up balls off the bat during batting practice, and in the past few games, his first steps have been much better.
The improvement showed in the fifth inning last night when he got a great jump on a drive to left-center by Jorge Fabregas, making a nice running catch.
ORIOLES SALARIESCal Ripken .... .... $6,871,671
Rafael Palmeiro .... 4,906,603
Ben McDonald ... ... 4,500,000
Kevin Brown ... .... 4,225,000
Brady Anderson .. .. 3,333,333
Mike Mussina ... ... 2,925,000
Chris Hoiles ... ... 2,850,000
Sid Fernandez ... .. 2,333,333
Harold Baines ... .. 1,600,000
Doug Jones .... .... 1,150,000
Jamie Moyer ... .... 1,100,000
Bret Barberie ... .. 958,750
Leo Gomez .... ..... 925,000
Matt Nokes .... .... 750,000
Alan Mills .... .... 600,000
Andy Van Slyke .. .. 550,000
Mark Eichhorn ... .. 537,500
Jesse Orosco ... ... 400,000
Kevin Bass ... ..... 250,000
Jeffrey Hammonds ... 250,000
Mark Lee .... ...... 150,000
Jeff Manto .... .... 140,000
Terry Clark .... ... 135,000
Manny Alexander .... 130,000
Mike Oquist .... ... 125,000
Scott Klingenbeck .. 109,000
Cesar Devarez ... .. 109,000
Curtis Goodwin ..... 109,000
Total .... ..... ... $42,023,190