By Eduardo A. Encina and Dan Connolly
The Baltimore Sun
8:03 PM EST, December 17, 2013
The longest tenured Oriole left for pinstripes.
Veteran second baseman Brian Roberts, who has played his entire 13-year career with the Orioles and has been the face of the franchise through many of those seasons, has agreed to a one-year deal worth $2 million plus incentives with the rival New York Yankees, according to an industry source.
The 36-year-old Roberts, who completed a four-year, $40-million deal this past season, didn’t return multiple calls Tuesday, but in September, he told The Baltimore Sun that he wanted to end his career with the Orioles.
“I would obviously love to play my whole career in one place,” Roberts said at the time. “I love the guys here, I love the team. I love being around everybody. The organization has stood behind me through a lot of stuff and now that we’ve got this organization going in the right direction, it’s a great place to be and a great place to be a part of. Certainly, if I had all my choices, this would be the first one.”
In September, Roberts said he would be open to an incentive-laden deal in order to remain in Baltimore.
"At this point in my career, it's really going to be about what the opportunities are and where you want to be, where you want you and your family to be and what that looks like,” Roberts said. “There could be a lot of factors that go into it, but certainly money won’t be the No. 1 one."
The Orioles were recently in touch with Roberts’ representatives, according to a source, but they weren’t given the opportunity to match the Yankees’ offer.
Riddled by various injuries over the past four seasons, Roberts hit .249/.312/.392 this season with eight homers and 39 RBIs in 77 games, the most he's played since 2009.
The Orioles made it clear they wanted to re-sign Roberts, but also acquired second baseman Jemile Weeks in the Jim Johnson trade two weeks ago.
Last week, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said he liked the existing options at second base – which include Weeks, utility man Ryan Flaherty and top position player prospect Jonathan Schoop – but left the door open for Roberts’ return.
At last week's winter meetings, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he'd like to see Roberts back "in an ideal world."
"We’ll see if it works for everybody," Showalter said. "It’s not always a perfect world. It’s got to be a fit for him and some decisions have to be made about it when people start exchanging salaries and fits and what have you. … I think Dan has it wired. I’m sure at some point the conversations that need to be had will be had."
Roberts played in 115 games over the first 3 ½ years of his four-year contract, sidelined by multiple concussions, back and hip injuries and a hamstring injury he suffered in the third game of this past season that required surgery.
But Roberts played in 77 games over after returning in late June and seemed to be playing his best in the final month of the season. He hit .286/.328/.476 with three homers and six RBIs in his final 15 games. Five of his eight homers came in September.
“I got to see glimpses of it, from the other dugout and from ours,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Roberts’ revival. “I had a good relationship with him, and he did a lot of good things for the Orioles and for the city. … I wish him well.”
Now he will fill the Yankees' void at second base left by Robinson Cano, who left New York for a 10-year, $240-million contract with the Seattle Mariners.
Roberts would leave the Orioles among the franchise's all-time leaders in stolen bases (278; third), doubles (351; fourth), runs (810; seventh) and hits (1,452; 10th).
Fox Sports first reported the agreement.
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