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Orioles hope to avoid arbitration with all eligible players by Friday's deadline

The Orioles will be working over the next two days to try to come to terms with their seven arbitration-eligible players in advance of Friday’s deadline to exchange salary figures.

The club typically agrees to terms with most of its arbitration-eligible players in advance of the deadline and Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said in a text message Thursday that the team is “trying to reach agreements with all arbitration-eligible players today and tomorrow.”

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According to MLBTradeRumors.com projections — which have been accurate — the Orioles are expected to pay more than $20 million in raises to its arbitration-eligible players: third baseman Manny Machado, closer Zach Britton, second baseman Jonathan Schoop, right-hander Kevin Gausman, right-handed reliever Brad Brach, shortstop Tim Beckham and catcher Caleb Joseph.

Those projections have Machado and Schoop in line to make raises of $5.8 million and $5.625 million, respectively, with Machado expected to make $17.3 million in his final year of arbitration and Schoop netting $9.1 million in his second of three arbitration seasons.

If Machado does in fact make that much this season, he would be the team’s third-highest paid player in 2018, trailing only first baseman Chris Davis ($21.119 million) and center fielder Adam Jones ($17.333 million).

This is the time of the season when the Orioles begin to entertain long-term extensions with players, but the only long-term extension they’ve agreed to with an arbitration-eligible player was Jones’ six-year, $88.5 million deal signed in May 2012. That bought out Jones’ final year of arbitration eligibility.

This offseason, the focus has been on Machado and whether he remains on the team in 2018 after the team fielded trade offers for the All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner leading in to his final year before free agency. Going into this week, there had been no discussion of an extension with Machado, according to a source.

Britton was projected to earn a modest $800,000 raise this year to $12.2 million after an injury-plagued 2017 season. Britton then ruptured his right Achilles tendon last month while working out in California and is expected to be out until at least June.

Last year, the Orioles went into the figure exchange deadline saying they were employing a “file-and-trial” approach for the first time in several years, saying all cases that were not finalized by the deadline would go to an arbitration hearing without further negotiation.

They came to terms with six of their nine arbitration-eligible players, but only two of the remaining three cases actually went to a hearing. Gausman avoided an arbitration hearing by agreed to terms in early February, but both Joseph and Brach went to trial. Joseph lost his case, but Brach won his, marking the first time the Orioles were defeated in arbitration in 22 years, since right-hander Ben McDonald won his hearing in 1995.

It is unclear whether the Orioles are employing a “file-and-trial” approach this year in negotiation with its arbitration-eligible players.

As Super Two qualifiers, both Gausman and Joseph will be entering their second of four arbitration-eligible seasons. Shortstop Tim Beckham, acquired at the nonwaiver trade deadline from the Tampa Bay Rays, is the team’s only first-time arbitration-eligible player, and he is projected to earn $3.1 million after making just $885,000 last season.

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