Barring a last minute change, the Orioles are expected to go to arbitration hearings with starter Jeremy Guthrie and swingman Brad Bergesen -- which would be the first time the club has met with the three-person, independent panel since before the 2006 season.
Guthrie's hearing is Monday morning, Bergesen's is Wednesday morning and both will be at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Orioles also could face a hearing Feb. 17 with center fielder Adam Jones, but the sense is that it could be settled before the hearing date.
Guthrie has the widest gap among the three Orioles still seeking arbitration. He is looking for a salary of $10.25 million in 2012 while the Orioles countered with $7.25 million. Bergesen is asking for $1.2 million compared with $800,000, and Jones is asking for $7.4 million with the club at $5 million. The arbitration panel will decide on one number or the other -- but there is no compromise once the case is heard.
The Orioles are 6-0 in hearings led by current team general counsel H. Russell Smouse. The last time the Orioles lost a hearing was in 1995 against pitcher Ben McDonald. The last time they engaged in one was a victory versus pitcher Rodrigo Lopez in 2006.
** Starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, who had been perhaps the best free agent left on the market, signed Thursday with the Washington Nationals. The one-year deal is reportedly worth roughly $10 million.
The Orioles coveted Jackson and made him an offer -- believed to be for three years. So why did Jackson turn it down for a one-year deal? Was it an "anywhere but Baltimore" situation?
Orioles brass didn't get a sense that Jackson was enamored with coming here, but he also turned down other three-year deals, according to a source. So the Orioles weren't alone. With the way the market played out this winter, Jackson and his agent, Scott Boras, agreed that Jackson should seek a one-year deal and re-enter free agency after next season, when he is still just 29.
Some may think that is risky since several top arms -- Philadelphia's Cole Hamels, Milwaukee's Zack Greinke and San Francisco's Matt Cain -- could be free agents. But Boras doesn't often misread the free-agent market for his big-time clients. And there's a sense industry-wide that Cain, and possibly Hamels, could sign an extension.
So, if Jackson has a good year in Washington, he could enter next offseason as one of the top free agents in the class. Then he'll get his big payday. And if he doesn't, assuming he stays healthy, he'll still land a good contract considering the annual dearth of starting pitching.
** The Orioles are still looking to add a bat, and it's likely it could come in free agency. That said, the market is definitely drying up and any addition at this point could not be considered an impactful one. One recognizable name, first baseman Casey Kotchman, signed a one-year deal with the Cleveland Indians on Thursday. The Orioles had tepid interest in Kotchman but dismissed the possibility before learning he had signed elsewhere.
** A spokesperson for Brooks Robinson said the Hall of Fame third baseman is still recuperating in the hospital after breaking two bones in his shoulder area after a fall from a stage at a charity event last Friday.