Mora signs three-year, $25M extension with Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Melvin Mora didn't want to leave Baltimore. The Orioles had no desire to let him go.

Both sides gave a little to make it happen, and the result was a satisfying compromise.

Mora signed a three-year, $25 million extension Friday that includes a no-trade clause. The deal, which concluded four months of negotiations, will enable the third baseman to keep his wife and six children in the city he's grown to love.

Mora originally asked for $9 million a season over three years but brought the price down to get the no-trade clause. The Orioles balked at the suggestion before finally conceding.

"It's something that we haven't done in the past, but Melvin was a unique case," said Mike Flanagan, executive vice president of baseball operations. "He lives in the area, he's a member of the community, he's not a player that we would consider trading. So it made sense to give him that security."

Mora wouldn't have approved the deal without it.

"We decided to come down because they gave me a no-trade clause. ... That's the biggest reason why I signed the contract," he said. "I don't want to move my family to another city. I want to be an Oriole forever, not just for two months."

Mora was in the final season of a three-year, $10.5 million contract he signed in January 2004. A two-time All-Star, Mora might
have gotten more money if he tested the free-agent market this winter.

But he was more interested in staying in Baltimore.

"I want to be an Oriole, my family wants to be here," Mora said. "We decided to stay here because we love this organization. That's what I care about."

Mora came to the Orioles in July 2000 in a trade that sent Mike Bordick to the New York Mets. His wife, Gisel, immediately became involved in the community, and the couple's quintuplets, born in 2001, know no other home.

Mora wanted to keep it that way, which is why it was important for him to get the no-trade clause.

"That was the essence of the deal. I don't think this deal gets done without the no-trade," said Lon Babby, Mora's agent. "You know, a player only has once or twice in their career a real opportunity to choose where they play. Free agency is an important right. To give that up and not be assured that you're going to be where you want to be just didn't make any sense.

"Once the Orioles agreed that he'd get a no-trade and that the no-trade would cover this year ... that was kind of the breakthrough that allowed us to work through the rest of the issues," he said.

In recent years, the Orioles have let stars such as Mike Mussina, Rafael Palmeiro and B.J. Ryan leave as free agents. Signing Mora was a significant step in the other direction.

Said Flanagan: "Melvin's desires were as ours were, for him to stay. In some of the other cases, people want to test free agency and they've earned that right. In this case, it was different. Melvin clearly wanted to stay here, and we wanted him to stay."

The 34-year-old Mora was hitting .288 with seven home runs and 20 RBI entering Friday's game in Washington. Upon learning the results of Mora's physical on Thursday, Flanagan expressed little doubt that Mora will still be effective at age 37.

"They said he was in pretty amazing shape," Flanagan said. "Who knows? He may have a contract coming after this one."