The Orioles don't have to make an official decision for a week, but they will tender contracts to all nine of their arbitration-eligible players, according to the club's top executive.
“We are planning on tendering those guys,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said. “Most of the guys we have there are real good players.”
The group consists of catcher Matt Wieters, first baseman Chris Davis, outfielders Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce, relievers Troy Patton, Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter and Jim Johnson, and starter Bud Norris.
All are eligible to have their 2014 salaries decided by a panel of arbitrators if an agreement can't be reached. The Orioles had the option of not offering those players a contract by Dec. 2, which would have made them free agents.
Duquette said in September that he planned to offer arbitration to Johnson, who led the American League in saves and blown saves this season and could be in line for a one-year contract worth roughly $10 million in 2014.
Davis, who finished second in the American League Most Valuable Player race, and Wieters, a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner, are also likely to get significant raises for next year. There was some speculation that the club would engage the two players in talks about contract extensions this winter. But Duquette said that has not occurred; he is focused at the moment on adding to the 2014 roster.
Reimold, 30, was considered a possible nontender candidate because he has had two lost seasons due to neck/spine problems that required surgeries. Fairly productive when healthy, he's someone with whom the Orioles don't want to cut ties, especially because they've received good reports about his recovery and believe he can be ready for spring training.
“I understand Nolan's doing all right with his rehab. He's ahead of where he was at the same time in 2012,” Duquette said of Reimold, who could compete for the club's left field and designated hitter spots in March. “We hope he can play in the field.”
Patton, 28, and Pearce, 30, were the only other arbitration-eligible players who were viewed as potential nontender candidates.
Orioles add two to roster
The Orioles continued to add to their 40-man roster Monday, trading for a right-handed reliever and claiming a middle infielder off waivers.
In a move to bolster the bullpen, the Orioles traded minor league starter Devin Jones to the San Diego Padres for right-handed reliever Brad Brach, who was 3-6 with a 3.70 ERA in parts of three major league seasons.
The club also claimed 26-year-old middle infielder Cord Phelps off waivers from the Cleveland Indians and placed him on the 40-man roster, which is now at 38 players.
Brach, a 42nd round pick by the Padres in 2008, was 1-0 with a 3.19 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 31 innings last year for the Padres. The 6-foot-6 New Jersey native has one minor league option remaining, meaning he can be sent to Triple-A Norfolk in 2014 without being placed on waivers.
“He's got a good arm, and he's had a good track record in the big leagues,” Duquette said. “He can strike hitters out and pitch effectively. He gives us a little more depth in the bullpen.”
Phelps, a 2008 third-round pick out of Stanford, batted .159 with a .221 on-base percentage in 53 games for Cleveland over parts of three seasons. Last year, he was limited by neck and wrist injuries, but he has a .370 career on-base percentage in the minors and hit a career-best 16 homers at Triple-A in 2012.
“He is a switch-hitting middle infielder, has some power and is a good on-base man,” Duquette said. “He hadn't really had an opportunity to play in the big leagues. He's been a productive, everyday player in the minors.”
Although the Orioles maintain interest in re-signing Brian Roberts, the club does not have a definite starter at second base. Ryan Flaherty and minor leaguer Jonathan Schoop are leading candidates for the spot, but could be challenged by Phelps, who is out of minor league options. Duquette said he does not view Phelps as a utility infielder.
“If he going to make it in the big leagues, it'll be more as an everyday player than a utility guy,” Duquette said.
Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun