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Tuesday, November 21, 2006
O's sign lefty Walker, turn attention to Carlos Lee

Associated Press

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Orioles fortified their bullpen by finalizing deals Tuesday with left-handers Jamie Walker and John Parrish, then turned their attention toward free agent Carlos Lee.

Lee batted .300 with 37 homers, 116 RBI and 19 steals with Texas and Milwaukee in 2006. He would be a welcome addition to a team that had only two players hit more than 16 homers -- Miguel Tejada (24) and Ramon Hernandez (23).

Baltimore is one of several clubs in pursuit of Lee, who has averaged 33 homers and 111 RBI over the last four seasons.

"We're in the mix, definitely," Orioles vice president Jim Duquette said.

Walker, who reached a preliminary agreement last week on a three-year deal, passed his physical and will get $3 million next year and $4.5 million in each of the following two seasons.

The 35-year-old was 0-1 with a 2.81 ERA in 56 games with the AL champion Detroit Tigers this year. He walked only eight batters in 48 innings.

"We have targeted the bullpen as an area that we want to improve and we certainly believe we've begun that process with the addition of Jamie Walker," Orioles executive vice president Mike Flanagan said.

Walker signed with Baltimore after failing to get a long-term commitment from the Tigers, with whom he spent the past five seasons.

"It's always a tough decision once you've been in one place so long. But the Tigers never really offered me a three-year deal," Walker said. "Baltimore was aggressive and were willing to give me three years. Once I heard they were interested, there was no reason to shop further."

Walker will be used in the back end of a bullpen that this season had little left-handed help beyond Tim Byrdak and rookies Kurt Birkins and Brian Burres.

"Jamie Walker is one of the premier lefties in baseball," Duquette said. "We will count on him to not only get out left-handers, but right-handers as well."

Parrish missed all last season after ligament replacement surgery in his elbow and was eligible for salary arbitration. He gets $575,000 and would earn $20,000 bonuses for 20 games and each additional five games through 55.

Parrish, who turns 29 next week, is 10-10 with a 4.31 ERA in 108 games over parts of five major league seasons, all with the Orioles.