After months of whispering behind closed doors and preparing for a possible Major League Baseball players strike in 1990, officials of the mysterious proposed league known only as the Independent Baseball League finally have fired the first public shot in what may progress into a bitter, all-out bidding war in the coming offseason. The new league's $2 million offer to the Baltimore Orioles' unsigned No. 1 draft pick, Ben McDonald -- a deal that may be guaranteed by New York developer Donald Trump even if the league never gets off the ground -- represents its first official jab at the major league establishment. But with the majority of major league players unsigned for next season, and the labor agreement between the owners and players to expire Dec. 31, this seems just the beginning of an onslaught. The new league -- which plans to have a Washington team as its flagship franchise -- apparently as yet has no commissioner, no confirmed local ownership, no completed stadium leases and, with McDonald still wavering, no players' names on contracts. It does, however, seem to have some financial backing from Trump, some degree of influence being exerted by former NBC-TV vice president Mike Trager and the organizational support of sports agent Richard Moss, former major league executive David LeFevre and Donald Fehr, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association. Still there's little beyond speculation thus far when it comes to details about the new league. Major league officials generally regard the league as leverage for the union in the negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, but Fehr denies the new league is a "union creation." He does say, however, that "from a Players Association standpoint, we've been saying for years there are more markets that can support a baseball team. It's a good deal for everyone when those markets are filled." Fehr last week held a meeting in New York with LeFevre and six of baseball's most prominent agents to discuss the league. New league officials probably would be forced to make some sort of public announcement concerning the specifics of the league if McDonald accepts their offer; otherwise they likely will stick to their original timetable that calls for a public statement within four to six weeks. LeFevre -- a former minority owner of the Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians and now an attorney with the New York firm of Reid & Priest, which also has offices in Washington -- did not return phone calls yesterday. Also unavailable to comment were Moss and LeFevre's associate, Doug Nelson, who are thought to be assisting LeFevre with the new league's organizational legwork. All three previously have declined to comment when contacted about the league. However sources close to them have indicated the league intends to begin play next spring with eight to 12 franchises valued at approximately $15 million apiece. The majority of those franchise fees will be placed in a fund the league will use to bid on players for a central talent pool, the sources said. The players apparently then will be distributed to teams by the league office, with attendance considerations the major factor in where they are placed. Plans apparently call for a 154-game regular season beginning in April, a preponderance of day games and a ban on designated hitters. "It'll be old-time baseball," said Jim Dalrymple, the RFK Stadium manager who has been in contact with new league representatives about a stadium lease for a Washington team. LeFevre has attempted to preserve a low public profile for the league in its formative stages. "You're going to be surprised when they make their announcement," a source close to LeFevre said recently. "This league is legitimate. It's going to go after a lot of big-name players . . . This is not going to be glorified minor league baseball -- not even close to that. It has been in the works for several years now." If it hasn't already, the league apparently plans to make out a wish list of sorts -- the number of players at various salary levels it will pursue; McDonald's proposed $2 million deal likely would be at the upper limit. The new league's minimum salary reportedly will be $100,000, as compared to the major league's $68,000 minimum. That likely would mean a handful of established players for each new league club, with remaining roster spots being filled by raids on major league farm systems. Meanwhile D.C. restaurateur Jeffery Gildenhorn -- who told The Washington Post last month he had agreed to be part of a local ownership group for a Washington entry in the new league -- said of McDonald's possible signing: "I think it's terrific. It immediately legitimizes the league . . . It makes everyone look good." However the extent of Gildenhorn's association with the new league is unclear. There seems to exist a rift between him and LeFevre's group, one that Gildenhorn says came about because the league's organizers were unhappy with his numerous public comments about the league. But sources close to the league's organizers say Gildenhorn over-represented his involvement and probably won't be part of the D.C. team's ownership. They say Gildenhorn was contacted by LeFevre, Moss and Nelson to help target local minority investors and misconstrued those overtures to mean his involvement in the ownership group was being sought. Instead, the sources say, the league wants the local 20-percent interest in the Washington team to be shared by a group of minority businessmen while some combination among LeFevre, Moss and Nelson presumably will retain the remaining 80-percent interest. Among those under consideration for the local group are boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, attorney Robert B. Washington Jr., PEPCO executive Harold Brazil and Marion (Duke) Greene, president of International Business Services Inc., a downtown computer company.