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KEYWORD HIT The exodus continues. First Eddie Murray, then Howard Johnson, then Sid Fernandez and now Charlie O'Brien. The veteran catcher has accepted an offer from the Braves that, he says, is the equivalent of what the Mets offered - $1.1 million for two years. The contract language still needs to be completed.
The Mets expected O'Brien, 32, to return as understudy to Todd Hundley. The $1.1-million offer they made represented a $50,000 annual raise over what he earned last season. But when O'Brien balked at the offer - he said two weeks ago he would sign for $1.2 million - the Mets began to look elsewhere. Last week they claimed 30-year-old catcher Joe Kmak off release waivers from the Brewers.
As recently as Monday, Mets executive vicepresident of baseball operations Joe McIlvaine said Kmak could serve as the Mets' Triple-A catcher if O'Brien accepted the Mets' offer.