By Staci Wolfson
After months of frustrating dead-ends and mired negotiations, the Orioles announced that they have finally come to an agreement with All-Star third baseman Melvin Mora.
In a press conference held today at Camden Yards, GM Mike Flanagan expressed the team’s pleasure at sealing the deal on the slugger’s three-year, $24 million contract. The agreement includes a $1 million buyout for the fourth option season.
"We're real happy today,” said Flanagan. “It's been a goal of ours not only to add players of quality but to add players that are great people. And I think we've done that with this signing.”
During the off-season Mora made it clear that he wanted all contract talks to end once the season got underway. Reportedly asking originally for $30 million over three years, Mora accepted the lower number in exchange for a no-trade clause.
“I don't want to just sign the contract, finish another season, and try to move my family for another season,” said Mora. “I want to be an Oriole, I want it to be forever. I don't want it to just be two months.”
Mora, one of the few Orioles who remain in Baltimore during the off-season, explained that his family was his main reason for wanting to stay with the team. He also said the organization and its fans make Baltimore a desirable place to play.
Despite being frustrated in recent months by stalled negotiations and a meeting with owner Peter Angelos that seemingly amounted to nothing, Mora and his agent Lon Babby showed only satisfaction with the Orioles’ front office. Mora said fans can be happy with the direction in which the front office is moving.
“Look at all the players we have,” he said. “We brought (Jeff) Conine and Kevin Millar to this organization and mentally they help a lot of people, a lot of young guys.”
Mora said his signing should prove to fans that the front office is working to make the team a winner. He believes the moves will eventually reverse the problems of the past eight losing seasons.
His signing is part of a front-office movement to keep a core of players together including Miguel Tejada, Ramon Hernandez, Jay Gibbons, Nick Markakis, Erik Bedard, Daniel Cabrera and Chris Ray, all signed through 2009.
"I think that's what they’re trying to do, to keep that group together,” Mora said. “And I hope they sign Brian Roberts too because he's one of the best lead-off hitters in baseball and now we have one of the best closers, Chris Ray. So I think we're going to have a pretty good team.”
In his time in Baltimore, Mora has emerged as one of baseball’s premiere third basemen. He hit 27 homeruns in each of the past two seasons, earned the American League Silver Slugger award after batting .340 in 2004, and was an All-Star for the second time in his career in 2005.
In addition to his skills on the field, Mora has also proven to be valuable to the organization off the field, orchestrating an off-season phone conversation between a disgruntled Tejada and the front office. The phone call put an end to Tejada’s trade demands.
Now Orioles fans have at least three more years to enjoy watching Mora play. Asked if having triplets instead of quintuplets would have made leaving Baltimore easier, he laughed.
“I can have one kid but if I feel comfortable with this organization, with this city, I'm gonna sign no matter what.”
Posted May 19, 2006