Now that five of the 11 arbitration-eligible Orioles have signed and the other six have submitted their salary figures for this season, it becomes a little easier to figure out what this year's payroll is going to be.
My best estimate – and I'm probably within a couple million dollars either way – is $114 million, which would be about $7 million higher than last year's franchise record.
It will keep the Orioles in the top half of major league payrolls – they were estimated 15th last year at roughly $107 million – but not quite in the Top 10.
At the beginning of the offseason, Orioles officials privately estimated that the 2015 payroll could be in the $130 million range – and even higher if they signed their coveted trio of free agents: Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis and Andrew Miller.
Those three will make approximately $34 million total next year, so, theoretically, if the Orioles had kept them at the going rate, the club's payroll for 2015 would be pushing $150 million.
Instead, they didn't sign any of the three and so the payroll sits around $114 million. If the Orioles agree to a deal with, say, outfielder Colby Rasmus this winter, the payroll would probably near $120 million.
By my calculations, the Orioles offense, as it is, will cost slightly more than $59 million and the pitching staff is a little more than $54 million or so. Again, the numbers aren't exact because there are six key players whose salaries aren't set.
A couple things that stood out to me here after looking at salary numbers provided by Baseball Prospectus:
One, four Orioles will make more than $10 million in 2015: center fielder Adam Jones ($13 million), first baseman Chris Davis ($12 million), shortstop J.J. Hardy ($11.5 million) and starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez ($12.25 million). Bud Norris has a chance to join them; he filed his arbitration number at $10.25 million.
Secondly, the Orioles have just six players set for the 25-man roster who will make less than $1 million: Infielders Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop, catcher Caleb Joseph, outfielder David Lough and pitchers Kevin Gausman and Brad Brach (plus T.J. McFarland if he makes the roster and isn't sent to the Triple-A Norfolk rotation).