The New York Yankees will sign free agent outfielder Steve Kemp, Baltimore General Manager Hank Peters said yesterday.
During a brief break in league meetings at baseball's 81st annual winter meeting in Honolulu, Peters said that Kemp's agent, Dick Moss, had informed the Orioles that they were out of the chase.
"He's going to sign with the Yankees," Peters said. "That's what Moss told Williams."
Edward Bennett Williams, owner of the Orioles, was thought to be in the thick of the chase for Kemp, a power-hitting but sometimes erratic-fielding left fielder who played for the Chicago White Sox last season.
Kemp hit.286 with 98 runs batted in and 19 home runs for the White Sox last season.
Although the signing was not official, Peters said, "Moss informed Williams today that Kemp had accepted the Yankees' offer."
In an early morning briefing, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner admitted his interest in Kemp and soft-pedaled any questions of the 28-year-old Kemp's ability in the outfield.
"We're not worried about that. We think that's a misnomer on Kemp," Steinbrenner said. "He's an aggressive type of guy, and sometimes a guy like that will get to balls other players wouldn't. Sure, maybe he's not great, but we know he is willing to work hard."
Kemp probably would play right field for the Yankees.
Kemp played five years for the Detroit Tigers before he was traded to Chicago for Chet Lemon on Nov. 27, 1981. In 1979, Kemp batted.318 with 105 RBI, and he had 101 RBI with a.293 average in 1980.
It was not know what the Yankees had offered and the Yankee executives were unavailable for comment, locked in their league meeting.