Mora, Orioles 'Getting Close' on Deal

By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 1, 2006

An unusual two-hour meeting yesterday between Baltimore Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora and majority owner Peter Angelos at Angelos's downtown Baltimore law office succeeded in bringing the sides closer to an agreement on a three-year contract extension, Mora said late yesterday afternoon.

"We're getting close," Mora said in the visitors' clubhouse at RFK Stadium before the team's exhibition game against the Washington Nationals. "It was a nice conversation."

The movement in the negotiations apparently came from Mora's side, as Mora told several people that he and his agent, Lon Babby, had dropped their asking price to $27 million over three years, down from $30 million. The Orioles are believed to be holding to an offer of $24 million.

Mora said the conversation focused more on the team than on his contract. Mora, who is in the final year of a three-year, $10.5 million deal, had requested the meeting earlier in the spring. "I wanted to talk to him [in person], so he could see my face [and] so I can see him," Mora said. "I just wanted to meet my boss, you know?"

Mora remained adamant that he would cut off negotiations once the season begins on Monday.

"When the season starts," Mora said, "I'm done."

Orioles Notes: The Orioles claimed catcher Raul Chavez off waivers from the Houston Astros, allowing them to avoid a situation in which primary designated hitter Javy Lopez would be their backup catcher.

Chavez, 33, is a career .215 hitter who has played in parts of eight major league seasons, but is considered an excellent defensive player who is adept at handling a pitching staff.

The move means the Orioles likely will have to drop an outfielder, and barring a trade, it appears rookie Nick Markakis could be sent down.

"Maybe something will pop up that makes sense for us," Manager Sam Perlozzo said, referring to ongoing trade discussions. But noting the team's surplus of outfielders, Perlozzo said "somebody's going to get shortchanged." . . .

Veteran right-hander Kris Benson made his final tuneup start of the spring last night, one day after it was revealed that his wife, Anna, had filed for divorce in Atlanta.

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