As usual, O's can count on Ripken Despite escape clause, he's sticking with club

The first five days after the World Series, teams traditionally deal with player contracts. The Orioles just hired manager Davey Johnson and are still in the market for a general manager, but their regular, off-season paperwork this year is about as routine as it gets, starting with the fact that Cal Ripken is not going to declare himself a free agent.

When Ripken signed his five-year, $30 million contract in 1992, a clause was included that would allow him that option at the end of the 1995 season. It's 1995, but the free-agency clause is a non-issue, his agent said yesterday.


"Cal is not going to exercise the option," said Ron Shapiro, Ripken's agent. "We started this process with the intent of Cal playing his whole career here, and we're finishing with that.

"It's not going to be an issue, and never was in our mind."


Ripken's contract expires at the end of the 1997 season.

In other Orioles business:

* The club will pick up the 1996 option on left-hander Jesse Orosco, for $500,000, and will decline to pick up the 1996 option on closer Doug Jones, who would have earned $1.3 million.

Orosco led the Orioles with 65 appearances last year, allowing just 28 hits in 49 2/3 innings and striking out 58. He previously pitched for new manager Davey Johnson in the 1980s, with the New York Mets.

Jones had 22 saves in 25 opportunities as the Orioles' closer, but he compiled a 5.01 ERA overall and had trouble pitching at Camden Yards. Pitching with a 10-6 lead against Toronto on Aug. 1, he allowed six runs without retiring a hitter, a game which is seen by many within the organization as a watershed night for the 1995 Orioles -- former manager Phil Regan and Jones, in particular.

* Davey Johnson will be paid $750,000 for each of the three years in his contract -- making the total value of his contract $2.25 million, far more than the $1.7 million reported elsewhere. The contract makes Johnson one of the highest-paid managers in the game.

Johnson earned $350,000 managing for the Reds last year.

* The Orioles likely will decline to offer arbitration to pitcher Kevin Brown and designated hitter Harold Baines, both potential free agents -- although club sources indicate a strong effort will be made to retain Brown. The Orioles likely will negotiate with Baines as well, although they'll also talk to free agents Eddie Murray and Kevin Seitzer, other possibilities at designated hitter.


Brown earned $4.225 million last year, and because he was a free agent after last season, the Orioles have five days after the end of the World Series to offer him arbitration.

But the uncertainty of the labor negotiations probably will discourage the Orioles from making a commitment to Brown which could cost them in the range of $4.5 to $5 million.

* The Orioles will interview Mets assistant GM Gerry Hunsicker as a candidate to replace Roland Hemond, who resigned Oct. 20. Hunsicker will be the sixth candidate interviewed. Insiders say former Montreal general manager Kevin Malone remains the front-runner.

* Gene Harris, who pitched in three games for the Orioles in June before being sidelined with a torn ligament in his elbow, refused an outright assignment to the minors and became a free agent.

* The contracts for the entire Orioles 1995 coaching staff expired yesterday, but a decision on who will be retained by Johnson isn't expected soon.