- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 8, 2002

Mike Bordick's career with the Baltimore Orioles almost certainly is over.
Bordick and the Orioles could not come to an agreement on a contract yesterday, and the club declined to offer the free agent shortstop salary arbitration, meaning now it cannot attempt to re-sign him until May1. By then Bordick, who last season set a major league record of 110 consecutive errorless games at shortstop, almost certainly will have signed with another club.
The 37-year-old Bordick, who made $5million last season, declined the Orioles' one-year offer of $1.5million, said Bordick's agent, Joe Bick. Bordick had been willing to take a pay cut, and Bick said his proposal was for one season at $2.75million. The sides could not close the sizable gap.
"We based our figure on Mike's value to us as a great defensive shortstop in my estimation, about the best of all time," Orioles vice president for baseball operations Mike Flanagan said. "His offense has always been a plus. All that went into the offer, one we felt was suitable, but sometimes [the two sides] have different values."
Not surprisingly, Bick had a different opinion.
"We really feel we stretched to get this done," he said. "You've got to have two parties to want to do a deal, and we didn't. There's no reason why a 10-year starting shortstop coming off one of the best defensive years in the history of baseball should be paid like a utility player.
"I think by the nature of our proposal you can see how much he wanted to come back. We're both disappointed."
The Orioles had submitted their offer Friday night. They had considered offering Bordick a contract with incentives built in but scrapped that plan and just went with a one-year deal. They either had to sign Bordick or offer him arbitration by midnight yesterday.
Jim Beattie, the Orioles' executive vice president/baseball operations, and Flanagan were officially hired only Wednesday, leaving them with little time to prepare an offer for Bordick and get into the negotiating process. As a result, Flanagan said, he and Beattie got into talks quickly with Bick.
Bick said "there's a chance" Bordick could retire but in all likelihood will pursue a contract with other teams.
The Orioles are left without any immediate starting shortstop options. The shortstop of the future is 24-year-old Eddie Rogers, but it is unlikely he will be ready to play this season, meaning the club will have to turn to free agency or a trade to fill the void.
Flanagan said he and Beattie have identified a number of shortstops they are prepared to pursue.
"We'll explore all avenues," Flanagan said. "We'll give Eddie Rogers more time and look all over to find someone to fill the position."
There aren't many overwhelming free agent candidates this offseason. One of the better shortstops available is Deivi Cruz, who hit .263 with 47 RBI last season with San Diego but committed 15 errors in 151 games.
No matter who Baltimore installs, Bordick's presence will be missed on the field and in the clubhouse. He took over the position from Cal Ripken, was the second-longest tenured Oriole (after right-hander Scott Erickson) and a fan favorite at Camden Yards. Last season he committed only one error in 570 chances.
"It's an odd feeling right now," Flanagan said. "I know what my heart says, and you can be driven by that. Mike brings intangibles that you can't put a dollar sign on. It was difficult."

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