The Orioles agreed to terms with all but two of their 10 arbitration-eligible players in advance of Friday’s scheduled exchange of salary-arbitration figures.
The club agreed to one-year contracts for next season with star third baseman Manny Machado, right-handed starters Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez, and infielder Ryan Flaherty on Friday, according to industry sources.
On Thursday, the Orioles agreed to a one-year, $9.15 million deal with first baseman Mark Trumbo and a one-year, $1.25 million contract with reliever Brad Brach, avoiding arbitration with both. Outfielder Nolan Reimold and right-handed starter Vance Worley both agreed to terms on one-year deals before last month’s nontender deadline.
The Orioles' two arbitration-eligible players who remain unsigned are closer Zach Britton and left-handed reliever Brian Matusz. Britton filed for $7.9 million with the Orioles countering at $5.6 million. Matusz filed at $4.4 million while the Orioles answered with $3.5 million.
Machado received the largest raise, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $5 million plus performance incentives in his first year of arbitration eligibility, according to an industry source. Machado earned just $548,000 last season.
While the Orioles avoided arbitration with their 23-year-old budding superstar, discussions did not extend toward locking up Machado long term. The Orioles last approached Machado about a long-term extension following the 2013 season, but that talk gained no traction. He can become a free agent after the 2018 season.
While winning his second career Gold Glove award at third base, Machado enjoyed the best all-around offensive season of his career, setting new highs in homers (35), RBIs (86), runs scored (102) and stolen bases (20).
Tillman, who made 31 starts and threw 173 innings with a 4.99 ERA after three straight seasons with a sub-4.00 ERA, agreed to a $6.225 million salary plus awards and incentives in his second arbitration-eligible season, according to an industry source. In 2015, Tillman made $4.315 million. He has one more year of arbitration remaining before reaching free agency after the 2017 season.
Gonzalez battled groin and shoulder injuries last year en route to a 9-12 mark with a 4.91 ERA in 2015. He also received a significant raise, agreeing to a one-year, $5.1 million deal in his second year of arbitration eligibility. Gonzalez made $3.275 million last season.
Flaherty, the team’s utility infielder the past four seasons, agreed to a $1.5 million deal for 2016, a raise from $1.075 million last season. He hit .202 with a .637 OPS and nine home runs in 2015.
The Orioles and the representatives for Matusz and Britton are scheduled to exchange salary figures Friday, and go before a panel in February to determine the player’s contract if an agreement can not be reached. The sides can still negotiate up until the hearing.
Outfielder Alejandro De Aza was the only Orioles player to go through an arbitration hearing last season. De Aza lost his arbitration case and was signed to the Orioles’ $5 million offer instead of his $5.65 million figure.
It has been rare for Orioles players to go to arbitration and the club has a sparkling record in those cases.
Orioles general counsel H. Russell Smouse is 8-0 in arbitration cases and as a team, the Orioles are 9-1 since managing partner Peter G. Angelos took over the team in 1993. Their only loss was to Ben McDonald and his agent, Scott Boras, in 1995.
The Sun was the first to report the Orioles’ agreements with Machado and Gonzalez. MLB Network first reported the Tillman agreement, while MASNsports.com first reported the Flaherty salary figure.