- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 19, 2003

Ivan Rodriguez is getting a little anxious in his pursuit of a contract for next season while the Baltimore Orioles are sitting tight.
An article Friday in the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia quoted the star catcher as saying he was prepared to agree to a one-year contract worth $7million, plus incentives, with the Orioles by this week if the two sides could work out some details. Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie dismissed the report yesterday, saying the two sides remain just as far from reaching agreement as they have been in recent weeks.
"I don't know what [Rodriguez] has been told, but it's not true," Beattie said. "There's no accuracy to that at all. We briefly discussed a one-year contract last week. We're continuing to talk."
Rodriguez's agent, Jeff Moorad, pitched a one-year deal to the Orioles last week, but the club declined to pursue it, Beattie said, because it would rather sign Rodriguez to a multi-year contract.
"With a one-year deal, we didn't want to bring him in and have a hired gun for one season," Beattie said. "We're thinking long-term."
The latest exchange between the Orioles and Rodriguez without progress only prolongs talks that have been conducted sporadically since the winter meetings in mid-December. The two sides were considered to be at odds over potential salary and terms of a possible agreement on Dec.18 and have not made much headway since.
The Orioles' proposal is believed to be in the range of three years and $18million Beattie again declined to elaborate yesterday while Rodriguez is seeking closer to $10million per season after making that last season in Texas. But the free agent market has been slow to develop this offseason, and many players have settled for less money often significantly less than they made last season.
Rodriguez, a 10-time Gold Glove winner, has found no serious suitors other than Baltimore, which has moved little from its original offer.
Rodriguez, 31, expressed frustration over the failure to negotiate a deal in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram article Jan.10 and again in the El Nuevo Dia article. Rodriguez reportedly has tested the possibility of playing in Japan this season. Rodriguez also told the Puerto Rican newspaper that he is disappointed that only one team is really pursuing him, and he feels he has little other option but to sign a one-year contract. That isn't close to happening with the Orioles right now, though things could change.
The two sides are expected to speak again tomorrow and, said Beattie, "hopefully we can reach back and work something out that can make him and us happy.
Meanwhile, after signing Gary Matthews to a one-year, $900,000 contract Thursday night, the Orioles have four arbitration-eligible players with whom to negotiate contracts.
Figures from teams and players were submitted Friday for Sidney Ponson (the club proposed $3.9million, the player $4.75million), Jerry Hairston ($1.15million, $1.8million), Melvin Mora ($1.425million, $2million) and B.J. Ryan ($700,000, $825,000). The Orioles will continue discussions with players' representatives tomorrow.


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