After five days of suspended negotiations, free-agent center fielder Brady Anderson says he anticipates talks with Orioles owner Peter Angelos to regain momentum this week as a Sunday deadline nears for teams to offer arbitration to their free agents.
Anderson insists that his preference is to remain with the Orioles and he may again initiate talks by phoning Angelos today. Reached last night while vacationing in San Diego, Anderson said: "It's my assumption that the Orioles would want to take care of it before the arbitration date. That's always been the deadline in my mind. I don't want it to go much longer than that. I really don't think they would want to handle it through arbitration. I don't think we do, either."
Teams must offer arbitration to their free agents to receive compensation for them if signed by another club.
In return for losing Anderson -- a Type-A free agent -- the Orioles would receive the first-round pick of his new team in next June's amateur draft along with a sandwich selection between the first two rounds. The player may accept arbitration, potentially landing before an arbitrator who chooses between a salary figure suggested by the club and another by the player. The sides could continue to negotiate a long-term deal until the hearing date. If Anderson pursued arbitration, he would again become eligible for free agency after next season.
"I've thought about [going to arbitration] every now and then," Anderson said. "My agents told me a long time ago the way to make the most money is to be a really good player and sign one-year contracts your whole career. But it's not a very pretty process.
"Actually, it's the biggest risk there is. I guess it's an option. But it's not very appealing for either side."
Anderson finds himself on uncommon ground. The market waits on him while he waits on the market. So far, Angelos' four-year, $25 million offer is the only one on the table. The New York Yankees -- and every other interested club -- are apparently waiting to see whether Anderson re-signs before making an offer. Without competition, Angelos doesn't have any reason either to guarantee a fifth year or bump Anderson's average salary to $7 million.
"My philosophy is the same," he says. "Four years at market value. At five years, I'm willing to bend."
Angelos consistently has stated his optimism about keeping Anderson in Baltimore. For the first time in several weeks, Anderson hedged yesterday.
"I don't know if I'm optimistic. Maybe my optimism is based on what they say," he said.
Anderson suffered a jolt when free-agent closer Randy Myers defected to the Toronto Blue Jays last Wednesday to accept a three-year, $18 million offer. But Anderson stopped short of saying Myers' absence will affect his decision.
The Orioles, meanwhile, remain hopeful of improving their starting rotation and designated hitter. General manager Pat Gillick is focused on free-agent pitcher Willie Blair and 41-year-old DH Paul Molitor. The club apparently has taken itself out of consideration for potential No. 2 starter Darryl Kile, who is thought to be leaning toward a return to the National League and is seeking more than $7 million a season, enough to make him the Orioles' highest-paid pitcher. Molitor returned home from a cruise last night and is weighing offers from the Orioles and Toronto.
Pub Date: 12/01/97