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Orioles Sign Pitcher Trombley

Pitcher Mike Trombley became the first free agent to sign with a new team this offseason, agreeing today to a $7.75 million, three-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles.

"He's part of an improved bullpen, a proven setup man, " Orioles player personnel director Syd Thrift said.

The Orioles' new manager, Mike Hargrove, has expressed a desire to re-evaluate the team's late-inning relief. Trombley, a 32-year-old right-hander, saved 24 games in 30 chances last season for the Minnesota Twins. He was 2-8 with a 4.33 ERA for the season.

He allowed 93 hits, walked 28 and struck out 82 in 87 1-3 innings pitched.

"I'm looking at it as a setup situation. I'm here to set up (closer Mike Timlin)," Trombley said. "But whenever they need me to pitch I'll do what they say."

Trombley, who made $1.5 million last season, gets a $1 million signing bonus, $2.5 million in 2000 and $2 million in each of the following two years. The Orioles have a $3 million option for 2003 with a $250,000 buyout.

Minnesota took Trombley in the 1989 amateur draft and he made his major league debut in 1992. His departure leaves the Twins looking for a closer.

"That certainly puts a hole in the back end of our bullpen, so we're going to have to start making alternative plans," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said today.

He said the Twins will "try to mix and match" what they already have in the bullpen, as well as look at possible trades and the free-agent market.

"We have some guys who have a little experience in closing a game," Ryan said. "It takes a certain individual to take the psychological pounding that you take as a closer."

Ryan said the team had hoped it could keep Trombley.

"We had a competitive bid out there or we wouldn't have been in it that late. We kept inching our offer up," Ryan said. "We just didn't have enough, obviously."

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