Roland Hemond, a career baseball man who has twice been named the game's "executive of the year," will be general manager of the Baltimore Orioles, sources said last night.
Hemond and Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams were unavailable for comment, but sources said Hemond arrived in Washington late last night and would be named at a news conference in Baltimore, probably today.
Meanwhile, on the last day that eligible players could file for free agency, the Orioles signed all three of their potential free agents.
Shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. and pitcher Dave Schmidt agreed to contracts just before the midnight filing deadline, and outfielder Jim Dwyer signed earlier in the day. The Orioles didn't announce the signing of either Schmidt or Ripken, instead planning to announce their signings and Hemond's hiring at the news conference.
The hiring of Hemond, 58, completes Williams' five-week search for a replacement for Hank Peters, who was fired Oct. 5. At the time, Williams said the firing of Peters and farm director Tom Giordano was the first step in a "reorganization" of the Orioles.
That reorganization is complete, and it will have Hemond as general manager, Doug Melvin as farm director and former coach Frank Robinson in some kind of assistant general manager role. Team vice president Lawrence Lucchino has handled contract negotiations since Peters was fired and may have those duties in the reorganization.
One of Hemond's first duties will be the hiring of a manager. When Williams fired Peters, he said he was "disposed" to give Cal Ripken Sr. another year, but said any formal announcement wouldn't come until after a general manager had been hired.
Hemond has been working as a consultant to Commissioner Peter Ueberroth since being fired by the Chicago White Sox after the 1985 season. He was the White Sox' general manager for 15 years and, in that time, gained the respect of many who worked for or with him.
The Orioles are coming off a 67-95 season, their worst in 32 years, and Williams has emphasized that he wants a quick improvement. His primary criticism of Peters was that he was too cautious about making trades and that the farm system badly deteriorated.
He believes the farm system will be taken care of by Melvin and, in Hemond, he has a man who never has been shy about making changes.
In his first winter meetings with the White Sox, Hemond, manager Chuck Tanner and owner Bill Veeck traded 16 players in the first 18 hours of the session, an unofficial record that may never be broken.
Hemond was the primary architect of the White Sox' 1983 championship team. He has worked at almost every level in the game, beginning his career by sweeping concession stands for the Hartford team of the Eastern League.
With seven teams hiring new general managers this offseason, there was little doubt Hemond would return. However, he was believed to have preferred replacing Dallas Green, who resigned, as the Chicago Cubs' general manager.
The Cubs are believed to have told him they weren't ready to make a decision, and Hemond took Williams' offer.
Ripken Jr. originally asked the Orioles for a two-year, $3.8 million contract, but by yesterday, the two sides were discussing a deal believed to be worth around $1.6 million per season. He earned $1.35 million last season.
Schmidt had a base salary of $375,000 last season, but is believed to have agreed to a two-year deal that could be worth as much as $1 million when all incentives are counted.
A five-time all-star, Ripken Jr. is only 27 and has averaged 27 homers and 95 RBI in his six full seasons with the Orioles. This season, he hit 27 homers and drove in 98 runs, but he slumped badly, batting only .229 after May 16. He did, however, hit .297 with runners in scoring position.
Schmidt missed the final month of the season with an elbow injury, but still tied for the club lead with 10 victories. He was 10-5 with a team-best 3.77 ERA and was the only Orioles pitcher to have a winning record (other than reliever Don Aase, who was 1-0 but missed most of the year with an injury).
In other free agent news, 18 more players filed yesterday, bringing the total to 76 of a possible 105.
One player who didn't file was Philadelphia third baseman Mike Schmidt. Schmidt apparently reached agreement last night with the Phillies on a two-year, $4.5 million contract that would make him the second highest-paid player in baseball, according to a source close to the negotiations.
Schmidt, 38, hit .296 with 35 home runs and 113 RBI in 1987 and earned $2.133 million. He was already the fifth-highest-paid player in the game, having earned more than all but Kansas City reliever Dan Quisenberry ($2.293 million), Baltimore first baseman Eddie Murray ($2.246 million), Boston outfielder Jim Rice ($2.216 million) and Kansas City first baseman George Brett ($2.175 million).
Those filing yesterday included Minnesota reliever Juan Berenguer; pitchers Ed Lynch and Dickie Noles and infielder Manny Trillo of the Chicago Cubs; pitcher Mike LaCoss, outfielder Eddie Milner and utilityman Joel Youngblood of San Francisco; outfielder Ken Griffey and infielder Graig Nettles of Atlanta; utilityman Jamie Quirk of Kansas City; pitcher Mark Clear of Milwaukee; outfielder Ken Landreaux of Los Angeles; pitchers Moose Haas and Joaquin Andujar of Oakland; pitcher Greg Minton of California; outfielder Jose Cruz of Houston; pitcher Frank Tanana of Detroit, and pitcher Tommy John of the New York Yankees.
The next important date in the contractual process is Dec. 7, the day by which a player's former club must offer to let an arbitrator decide his 1988 salary. If the club declines to offer to arbitrate, a player can't re-sign with his former team until May 1.
If a player refuses an arbitration offer by Dec. 19, he still has until Jan. 9 to sign with his previous team. After that, he can't re-sign until May 1.