Fans are still waiting for the Orioles to make a big play this offseason – particularly after trading closer Jim Johnson to carve out extra room on the payroll – but the front office obviously is more focused on keeping the guys they’ve got.
The club moved decisively to get as many of its arbitration-eligible players as possible signed before the 1 p.m. deadline for exchanging salary figures – the biggest deal a one-year, $10.35 million contract for Chris Davis . The Orioles also signed Tommy Hunter, Troy Patton and Brian Matusz on Friday, leaving only Matt Wieters still believed to be unsigned at the deadline.
Obviously, none of these players was going anywhere this winter, but the fact that Orioles ownership was so keen to get everybody under contract should be viewed as a sign that the front office is attempting to maintain an amicable atmosphere to facilitate future negotiations with their most valued players – particularly Davis and catcher Matt Wieters.
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Davis received a raise of more than $7 million over his 2013 salary of $3.3 million, which is significant because the $10.35 million deal would have broken a record if it had been awarded after a salary arbitration hearing. The Orioles could have waited around to see what the spread was between his asking price and their arbitration offer, but considering the year he had in 2013 (53 HRs, 138 RBIs), there was no reason to quibble.
Better to make nice with agent Scott Boras (who also represents Wieters) and hope that both players care enough about staying in Baltimore long-term to listen when it comes time to try and negotiate a multi-year deal.
That probably won’t work, considering Boras has a history of getting huge deals for his premier players, but both sides usually have a pretty good idea of what is the right arbitration price, so why put the players through an adversarial process that could impact their feelings about the organization right before starting the new season.