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Manny Machado says contract 'disappointing,' but 'you just have to go out and play'

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles third baseman Manny Machado has agreed to a $519,000 contract renewal for 2014 -- slightly above this year’s league minimum of $500,000 -- but the 21-year-old is somewhat disappointed with the figure.

Machado will also receive an additional $100,000 bonus for winning the 2013 Platinum Glove Award as the American League’s best defender.

“It is disappointing, but at the end of the day, you just have to go out and play,” said Machado, who made $495,000 last season and received a $25,000 bonus for making his first All-Star team. Similarly, the Platinum Glove bonus will not be calculated as part of his 2014 base salary.

The club is expected to announce Machado’s signing and the renewal of all of its players with fewer than three years major league service time -- a list that also includes starting pitchers Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez, among others -- on Tuesday.

Machado’s case is particularly intriguing because, with a year and two months service time, he has little negotiating leverage in accordance with Major League Baseball’s payroll structure. Yet he is clearly one of the key members of the club.

The Orioles could have given Machado a larger raise based on his production, but that is something typically not done with players in his situation. Matt Wieters, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis all went through similar scenarios before they reached their arbitration years.

Machado, like all players who have yet to reach arbitration, could have declined the contract, but then the team could have unilaterally renewed it anyway.

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette didn’t return a request for comment Monday.

Machado, who cannot become a free agent until after the 2018 season, and the Orioles have not yet discussed the possibility of a contract extension. But there are indications that that process could occur once the team is satisfied with how Machado has rebounded from offseason left knee surgery.

“I’d love to be an Oriole forever. I love the organization, I love the fans here. I love everything about this, and putting the uniform on every day,” said Machado, who hit .283 with 14 home runs, 71 RBIs and a league-leading 51 doubles in 156 games in his first full major league season. “I just want to be treated fairly. That’s it.”

As part of the collective bargaining agreement, clubs have the ability to renew contracts of players who have less than three years service time -- and subsequently aren’t yet eligible for arbitration -- if a mutual contract is not agreed upon.

It’s a way that clubs can keep salaries down initially before they escalate precipitously during the arbitration years. Therefore, most teams pay their players, even budding stars, near the minimum while they can.

Those decisions often irk young rising stars, however, who have proven to be worth much more than the minimum early in their careers. Teams, though, argue that if players continue at a strong pace, then they will ultimately reap a major financial windfall.

Machado has not played in a game this spring as he rehabs from October surgery – which usually takes four to six months recovery time. He is currently participating in baseball drills, but it is uncertain whether he will be ready for Opening Day. If not, the Orioles would hope to have him back at some point in April.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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