The Major League Baseball Players Association yesterday formally filed a grievance against the Orioles on behalf of relief pitcher Xavier Hernandez, who alleges the club is bound to a $2.7 million offer it extended to him in December before a physical revealed a slight tear in his right rotator cuff.
Scheduled for a May 17-18 hearing, the grievance will be heard by arbitrator Richard Bloch. Hernandez signed a $250,000 contract with the Houston Astros last week and may earn an additional $250,000 if he remains on the major-league roster while avoiding the disabled list the entire season.
However, Hernandez's agent, Barry Meister, seeks to have the Orioles compensate Hernandez for the difference between their two-year offer and the deal which his client later signed with the Astros.
The Orioles' offer, which the two sides agreed on in December, guaranteed Hernandez $1.2 million this season, $1.25 million in 2000 and a club option for 2001. A $250,000 buyout pushed the total value to $2.7 million.
Though Hernandez never signed a contract, Meister argues the parties had reached agreement as paperwork had been forwarded to the players association and Player Relations Committee.
Orioles general manager Frank Wren has declined to comment on the grievance but the club insists no contract goes in force until a player passes a team physical.
In this case, team Dr. Michael Jacobs refused to sign off on Hernandez's surgically repaired rotator cuff. The players association will likely argue the stance is immaterial since the Orioles did not specify that the deal was binding only if the right-hander received clearance from team doctors.
Wren briefly attempted to strike a compromise with Meister but eventually signed Heathcliff Slocumb to a one-year deal. Slocumb is projected to serve as right-handed set-up man for closer Mike Timlin, the role initially to be assigned Hernandez.
Pub Date: 2/04/99