— The Orioles expect a sizable increase to their payroll for next season because of significant raises due to their nine arbitration-eligible players, but don't expect the Orioles to join the big spenders of the American League East.
Dan Duquette, the Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations, told reporters on the opening day of the winter meetings on Monday night that he expected $22 million in salary raises to arbitration eligible players, among them catcher Matt Wieters, closer Jim Johnson and outfielder/designated hitter Chris Davis.
That will increase the team's payroll from last year, when the Orioles' $81 million payroll was ranked 19th among Major League Baseball's 30 clubs.
"The good news is that those players are going to be on our roster and that they earned the money by having good years," Duquette said. "I think it's important for people to focus on, the team is paying the players ... [who] are producing for the ball club."
While Duquette expects a higher payroll, he said he's not focused on an exact budget for next year's team.
"I don't really focus on budget," Duquette said. "I don't really focus on that because I don't think it's productive to talk about that. But I do know that we have enough money to field a competitive team. We have a foundation for a competitive team."
"We were closer to the bottom 10 [teams]," Duquette said. "I don't think we're going to get toward the top 10 any time soon. … To focus on a number of where we're at, like I said, that is not going help us meet our goals. And frankly, I don't think our fans are focus on that. We have to compete with teams in the American League East and talking about what we have to put towards it is not going to get that job done."
PR officials commit to cancer research
Impacted first hand by colleagues being diagnosed by cancer, public relations officials from Major League Baseball and its 30 clubs announced Monday afternoon they have organized a unique online auction to benefit Stand Up to Cancer.
The cause has impacted the Orioles directly. The club's public relations director, Monica Barlow, is battling Stage IV lung cancer, one of four MLB public relations officials to be diagnosed with cancer over the past four years.
"I don't want to be a spotlight person," Barlow said. "Millions and millions of people are affected by this disease. That said, if I can help raise awareness to raise funding for this, then I absolutely will do what I can. That's why I feel it's important."
There are three Orioles-related items in the auction, including the chance to be an Oriole for a day at spring training, the opportunity to ride on the team bus to a road game against the Washington Nationals and a team-signed batting helmet used by Wieters during the postseason.
The online auction, which includes more than 70 items, opened Monday afternoon and will run through Thursday until 11:59 p.m. It can be accessed on MLB.com.
Orioles executive director of international recruiting Fred Ferreira was named Major League Baseball International Scout of the Year on Monday.
Ferreira, hired by Duquette a year ago to bolster international efforts in Latin America, signed right-hander Miguel Gonzalez after watching him pitch in the Mexican League. Gonzalez was the 61st player Ferreira has signed to make the major leagues.
Spring training schedule change
Instead of playing the Brazil World Baseball Classic team in an exhibition game March 6 in Sarasota during spring training, the Orioles will host the WBC entry from Spain.
The Brazil team, originally slated to train in Florida, will instead train for the WBC in Japan — they have several Japanese players and a strong connection to Japan — so Spain, which is training in Florida before playing first-round games in Puerto Rico, was an easy replacement.
Around the horn:
A Texas Rangers official was pessimistic regarding the chances of retaining former Orioles reliever Koji Uehara. The Orioles have some interest in bringing Uehara back to Baltimore, but the chances of Uehara receiving a two-year deal from the Orioles seem unlikely. … The Diamondbacks announced that former Orioles right-hander Brad Bergesen's contract has been sold to the Chunichi Dragons of the Japanese Central League. Arizona claimed Bergesen off waivers in July and released him on Friday hours before the tender deadline. … Major League Baseball's pre-integration committee selected three candidates for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame: umpire Hank O'Day, former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert and former player Deacon White. Included on the committee that chose the inductees were two former Orioles general managers — Pat Gillick and Roland Hemond — as well as former Sun writer Jim Henneman.
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