- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2000

The Baltimore Orioles finally found a pitcher willing to take their money former Cy Young Award winner Pat Hentgen, who agreed yesterday to a two-year, $9 million deal.
After coming up short in offer after offer to prospective free agents and being unable to close on several attempted trades for pitching, vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift finally was able to land one of the players the Orioles had targeted to shore up a very uncertain starting rotation.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported last night that the Orioles had reached agreement with first baseman David Segui on a four-year, $28 million deal that is expected to be announced today. Baltimore also appears close to bringing back shortstop Mike Bordick, who was traded to the New York Mets in July as part of the dismantling of the team by owner Peter Angelos to bring young prospects into the organization.
"Pat Hentgen is the exact prototype that we were looking for to add to our starting pitching staff," Thrift said. "We had arranged to meet with his representative at the winter meetings in Dallas because we were convinced he was the one who could help us the most.
"Pat has an excellent track record," Thrift said. "He brings all the intangibles we're looking for. He's a winner, and he will have a positive impact on our younger pitchers."
Hentgen, 32, will receive $4.5 million in each of the next two seasons, plus performance bonuses. The club has a $6 million option for 2003.
The right-hander returns to the American League after one year with the St. Louis Cardinals, where he went 15-12 with a 4.72 ERA, striking out 118 and allowing 89 walks in 194 1/3 innings. He got off to a slow start, going 4-6 with a 5.53 ERA in his first 12 starts through June 5. After that, Hentgen went 1-6 with a 4.27 ERA in 21 starts.
In nine major league seasons, Hentgen has a mark of 120-88 with a 4.21 ERA. His best season was 1996, when he posted a 20-10 record with a 3.22 ERA, winning the AL Cy Young.
"It's funny how free agency works," Hentgen said. "I never really thought the Orioles and I would fit, but it worked out. It's a comforting feeling knowing where I'll be the next two seasons."
Although manager Mike Hargrove said at the recent winter meetings that Jose Mercedes (14-7) probably would be the Opening Day starter, the nod now probably will go to Hentgen, who has by far the most experience and strongest career numbers of any Baltimore starter.
For now, that rotation has three starters firmly in place, with Sidney Ponson joining Hentgen and Mercedes. The final two spots will be contested among young pitchers like John Parrish, Jason Johnson and one of the newcomers obtained during the midseason housecleaning, such as Leslie Brea. Thrift said recently that a left-hander acquired from the Blue Jays in a trade, John Bale, also could be a candidate.
Before signing Hentgen, the Orioles had been jilted by such free agents as Kevin Appier, Tom Gordon, Alex Gonzalez, Jose Valentin, Turk Wendell and others. They also were rebuffed in attempts to acquire shortstop Royce Clayton and pitcher Dustin Hermanson by trade.
Segui, 34, hit .334 with Texas and Cleveland this year. He played in 150 games, hitting 19 homers and driving in 103 runs. He began his major league career with the Orioles in 1990 and played with the club through 1993 before being traded to the New York Mets in March 1994.
"We have details to be worked out, but we're close," Thrift said of the deal with Segui.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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