The Orioles moved to solidify their pitching by signing Shawn Boskie yesterday, but that doesn't mean the team is finished looking for starters, or right-handed hitters for that matter.
The club could have an offer ready for slugger Greg Vaughn by tomorrow, the deadline for the free agent to accept or reject salary arbitration from the San Diego Padres.
"In anyone's situation, Greg Vaughn would warrant consideration because of his offensive capability," assistant general manager Kevin Malone said. "We have an idea of what the market is dictating and we have an idea of what [agent] Eric Goldschmidt is looking for. We haven't bridged that gap yet. We're not on a timetable, but we understand Eric's situation with Greg Vaughn."
Boskie, who turns 30 in March, went 12-11 with a 5.32 ERA for the California Angels last year. He signed a one-year deal with a base value of $660,000. His salary can max out at $1 million based on a top performance bonus of 32 starts. The deal includes a club option for '98 at $750,000 with a $100,00 buyout clause.
Malone said Boskie will be given an opportunity to crack the rotation, but the Orioles still could land a more heralded starter.
"He's a young guy just coming into his own," Malone said. "We believe there's a lot of upside potential in his future. The price is very affordable and he knows how to win."
The Orioles had been talking with the Texas Rangers about the possibility of acquiring left-hander Darren Oliver, but Malone said the teams have not spoken recently. Other top pitchers, such as the Philadelphia Phillies' Curt Schilling (a former Oriole), also could become available in coming weeks, although Malone said the Orioles have not contacted the Phillies.
"We're continuing to look for quality starters, and if we find someone that fits the bill, that's great," Malone said. "We explore these options daily, but nothing is on the front burner as far as any trade possibilities for any front-line starters. Nothing is imminent."
Boskie provides the Orioles with versatility.
He set career highs for wins, strikeouts (133) and starts (28) last season. He also appeared in nine games as a reliever. In 1993, Boskie's best season, he made two starts and had 37 relief appearances, compiling a 3.43 ERA.
"I just want to contribute to the team winning, whether it's starting or relieving," Boskie said. "I can do an effective job at both."
Boskie was strong in the first half of 1996, with a 9-3 record and 4.27 ERA, but won just three games after the All-Star break, producing a bloated 6.84 ERA. He also hit 13 batters, tying him for the AL lead.
The Orioles' concern is Boskie's propensity to give up the long ball. He yielded a major-league-high 40 homers (20 in each half) ++ last season, and the small confines of Camden Yards could boost that total.
Malone said new pitching coach Ray Miller should be able to help Boskie trim that figure. The seven-year veteran had never given up more than 16 homers in a season before last year.
"I came up with a better breaking ball that really helped my game, but it took some time to get it right and it led to a lot of home runs, too," Boskie said. "
"It's something I'm aware of more than anybody else. But, personally, I've pitched pretty well in this park, and unless I give up three or four a game it's not going to kill me."
Boskie has a 42-54 career record and 4.92 ERA. In addition to the Angels, he has pitched for the Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners and Phillies.
"It comes down to wins and losses, and if we can get 10 to 12 wins out of our fifth starter, we'll be in pretty good shape," Malone said.
As for Vaughn, 31, he hit 41 homers and drove in 117 runs in 145 games last year. He is expected to earn about $5 million next season, and Goldschmidt has said he turned down a three-year deal worth $16.5 million after the Padres acquired Vaughn for the playoff drive.
Goldschmidt has spoken with the Orioles each of the last four days and indicated to GM Pat Gillick that he would accept a deal for three years. The agent said he expects to have three offers to decide from tomorrow.
"I told the Orioles he's going to sign somewhere on Wednesday," Goldschmidt said.
"One of the options we have to look at is accepting a one-year arbitration deal from the Padres, giving us the highest salary we'd probably be able to get for '97, vs. the multi-year offer or offers that are in front of us.
"The ball is in their court," Goldschmidt said. "This is the type of thing that can be started and finished in one hour."
The Orioles face a similar deadline with outfielder Pete Incaviglia, whom they have offered arbitration.
Incaviglia's agent, Tony Attanasio, said Gillick presented him with a potential agreement about two weeks ago, and if "he came back with that same offer, I'd be shocked if Inky didn't accept it."
Malone said there are just a few details to hash out with Incaviglia, who would be a role player and part-time designated hitter for the Orioles.
"We're optimistic we'll be able to get the Pete Incaviglia situation resolved in the next couple of days," Malone said.
NOTE: Cal Ripken, Brady Anderson, B. J. Surhoff, Rick Krivda and former Orioles Al Bumbry and Dave Johnson will attend a party for Baltimore city students today at Camden Yards.
Pub Date: 12/17/96