Cleveland's hiring of Hank Peters wasn't the only move yesterday to bolster an American League East club: Baltimore picked up a free-agent minor league pitcher who once was a first-round draft choice. And the New York Yankees obtained catcher Don Slaught, who began the 1987 season with the highest career batting average of anyone against the Orioles.

The Orioles signed right-hander Kevin Price, 25, to a Class AAA Rochester contract off his 9-4, 2.40 ERA year with a Southern League-leading 19 saves (he had 20 the previous year) for Jacksonville, the Montreal Expos' AA affiliate. Primarily a starter for four seasons after the California Angels drafted him in 1981, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Price was switched to the bullpen upon joining the Expos system in 1985.

For Slaught, 29, the Yankees owe the Texas Rangers a player to be named. Slaught, who spent three years with Kansas City and three with Texas, had an off year in '87, .224 with eight home runs and 16 RBI in 95 games.

But before that -- particularly stinging the Orioles for a .362 average on 47 hits -- he was a career .278, including .312 for the Royals in 1983. With the Rangers on May 17, 1986, a pitch from Boston's Oil Can Boyd broke his nose and cheekbone and sidelined him 44 games; yet he had career highs of 13 homers and 46 RBI that season, batting .264 . . .

Roger Craig, who led the San Francisco Giants from last place to a division title in two years, is the Associated Press major league manager of the year. He drew 46 votes in a poll of writers and broadcasters prior to postseason play, to 45 for Montreal's Buck Rodgers -- who beat him out in the previously announced Baseball Writers Association of America vote for National League manager of the year. Minnesota's Tom Kelly of Minnesota (37), St. Louis' Whitey Herzog (20) and Detroit's Sparky Anderson (17) were next.