Cal Ripken and the Orioles are nearly $8 million apart in their respective contract proposals, sources familiar with the organization said yesterday.
Ripken, 36, will earn $6.2 million in this, the final season of his current contract, after which he would be eligible for free agency.
According to sources, the Orioles have offered Ripken a two-year extension for 1998 and 1999 at $6.2 million per season, with a club option for the year 2000 also at $6.2 million. Under the Orioles' proposal, Ripken would receive $1 million in a buyout if the club didn't exercise the third-year option.
Ripken's agent, Ron Shapiro, gave a counteroffer to the Orioles on Wednesday: $7 million for 1998, $6.75 million for 1999, and $6.5 million for 2000. In addition, Ripken would receive a $1 million signing bonus.
Under the Orioles' offer, Ripken would be guaranteed at least $13.4 million. Under the counterproposal made on his behalf, Ripken would be guaranteed $21.25 million, a difference of $7.85 million. The two sides are reasonably close in their annual salary proposals, but the main sticking point is whether the third year of the extension is guaranteed.
Orioles general manager Pat Gillick and Ripken have said that if the two sides cannot reach an agreement by April 1, Opening Day, negotiations will be ended until after the season. The last time Ripken's contract was negotiated during the season, 1992, Ripken had the worst season of his career, hitting .251 with 14 homers and 72 RBIs.
Outfielder Brady Anderson also can become a free agent after this season, but he has had no recent talks with the club about a contract extension. Last fall, the Orioles offered Anderson a two-year deal, $4 million in '98 and $4 million in '99; Anderson rejected that proposal.
But Anderson said yesterday that Gillick and assistant GM Kevin Malone have approached him this spring to say the team wants to keep him. Anderson probably won't sign an extension before Opening Day. Nonetheless, he's not worried about that.
"People always want to act like everything is so urgent," Anderson said. "The thing is, I'm signed through this year. Just because I could become a free agent doesn't mean I won't sign with the Orioles. Chances are probably great I'll stay in Baltimore.
"As of right now, chances are better of staying than going somewhere else. A lot of teams would be interested if I became a free agent, but I'd probably stay. I can't see leaving Baltimore.
"They can do something next off-season. They're telling you they want to keep you, you know you want to stay. What else could I say but the chances are great [of him re-signing]."
Besides, Anderson said jokingly, he doesn't want to give up his condominium. "I might play for free next year," he said, "just so I don't have to move out of my condo. It's no fun packing, man. Of course, I'll ask for a big bonus afterward."
Pitcher Mike Mussina, who reached an agreement on a one-year deal last week, said there have been no further discussions that he knows of since last week. Mussina will become a free agent after this season, unless he agrees to a multi-year contract.
Pub Date: 2/22/97