Orioles notes and observations (Phelps, Roberts, Reimold, contract extensions)

So the Orioles added a second baseman to their 40-man roster Monday. And it wasn't Brian Roberts.

It was Cord Phelps, a former third-round pick by the Cleveland Indians who was put on waivers and claimed by the Orioles.


According to executive vice president Dan Duquette, Phelps, 26, will compete for the open second base job -- a battle that likely will include Ryan Flaherty and rookie Jonathan Schoop.

I don't know much about Phelps, except that he was once highly thought of by the Indians. But he was passed by the impressive Jason Kipnis, who was drafted in the second round in 2009, a year after Phelps.


And Kipnis isn't giving that job back.

Duquette's been pretty good in unearthing players with talent that haven't gotten the opportunity. He's also been good at cutting ties with those guys if things aren't working out.

So Phelps will get a chance to show what he can do -- Duquette doesn't really see Phelps as a utility infielder -- and if he can't stick, he'll likely be somewhere else. Phelps is out of minor league options in 2014.

** If I'm placing money on who will be the Orioles' Opening Day second baseman -- and I don't think Las Vegas is taking such wagers right now -- my money is still on Roberts. Every indication I get is that the 36-year-old veteran will return to the club on a one-year deal.

From what I can tell, the Orioles aren't really pursuing any of the available free agent second basemen right now -- another indication that Roberts will be back. But nothing appears to be set yet. Still, if that prop bet becomes available, you have my blessing to go for it.

** Duquette told me Monday that Nolan Reimold -- and the other eight arbitration-eligible Orioles -- will be tendered contracts for 2014.

That might be a surprise to some fans since Reimold made $1 million last season while playing in just 40 games due to a neck/spine injury that required spinal fusion in July. After his breakout 2009 season in which he hit 15 homers in 411 plate appearances over 104 games as a 25-year-old, Reimold has played in just 182 big league games over four seasons.

But it's not been for a lack of effort. The hard-working Reimold, now 30, just hasn't been able to stay healthy. Still, the Orioles have stood behind their former second-round pick (2005) and Duquette believes Reimold can be ready for spring training.


So it didn't come as a surprise to those who have witnessed the club's affinity for Reimold over the years that he'll get roughly another $1 million in 2014 and a chance to show he can still play. It's really a low-risk move.

** Duquette said he has not had any contract extension talks this winter with players such as Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, who can become free agents after the 2015 season, and J.J. Hardy, who can be a free agent after the 2014 season.

I think it would be a huge surprise if Davis or Wieters signs an extension this winter. There just doesn't seem to be enough common ground to get something done. I think it is more likely something happens with Hardy, although his price may have skyrocketed after the St. Louis Cardinals signed Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $53 million deal this weekend.

Hardy is a much better defender, has more consistent pop and hasn't been suspended for performance-enhancing drug use.