Arbitration Eligibles: Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles are next in our 2013 Arbitration Eligibles series.  With 15 arbitration eligible players, the O's have the largest group of any team.  Matt Swartz's salary projections are below.

Let's begin dissecting this massive group by looking at the pure relievers: Johnson, O'Day, and Patton.  As a pitch-to-contact, groundball-oriented guy, Johnson is not your prototypical closer.  However, it'd be hard for the Orioles to argue against a 51-save platform year from the 29-year-old, and Johnson is in line for a hefty raise.  If the Orioles believe in Johnson long-term, they could get him at a lower 2013 salary by doing a multiyear deal.  O'Day added a third stellar season to his resume, though his holds totals aren't big enough to send his salary skyrocketing.  Likewise for Patton's fine 2012.

Matusz and Hunter spent time starting and relieving this year, and both were much more effective in relief.  As Super Two first-timers, their careers as starters will earn them extra money in arbitration.  Both had decent rotation stints a few years back.  Matusz will surely be tendered a contract, and I think Hunter is safe as well.

Few expected a move to the AL East to coincide with the best year of Hammel's career, but the 30-year-old posted a 3.43 ERA.  However, a long DL stint for knee surgery limited him to 118 innings, his lowest total since '08.  That will suppress his raise.  The righty will be entering a contract year, so if the club buys into the new and improved Hammel, a multiyear deal should be considered.  The team could aim for something below the three-year, $24MM deal Joe Blanton signed before the 2010 season.

The Orioles have ten arbitration eligible position players, many of whom are non-tender candidates.  The biggest name is Reynolds, who would be arbitration eligible in the likely event the team chooses a $500K buyout over his $11MM club option.  Our projections suggest they could sign him for less than $9MM through the arbitration process, but that's still probably too hefty.  Andino is coming off a very rough offensive year, and the Orioles might let him go rather than pay him close to $2MM.

The other position player non-tender candidates all project to earn a million bucks or less in 2013.  Rich Dubroff of thinks Teagarden will be back as Wieters' rarely-used backup, despite Teagarden's abysmal offense over his last 400 career plate appearances.  Pearce was all over the place: signed by the Twins to a minor league deal in December, released in March, then a minor league deal with the Yankees, then a June trade to the Orioles, designated for assignment by the Orioles in late July, claimed off waivers by the Astros, traded to the Yankees in late August, designated again in late September, and finally claimed by the Orioles.  He has some pop, but the Orioles probably will not let him keep his 40-man roster spot.

Ford found his way back to the Majors in late July, the 36-year-old's first big league appearance since '07.  He'd done a nice job at Triple-A but also probably won't keep his 40-man spot.  Quintanilla had his largest Major League plate appearance total this year since '08, and he can also be safely cut loose.  A neck injury ended Reimold's season in April; he had surgery in June.  He can be retained cheaply enough and will probably remain in the left field mix next year.

Wieters is an important case for the Orioles, as he could earn almost $5MM as a first-timer.  The 26-year-old backstop was not arbitration eligible a year ago due to a conscious effort in 2009 by the previous front office to ensure he'd avoid Super Two status.  Given that memory, and the fact that Wieters is represented by the Boras Corporation, I'm guessing the best the Orioles could do would be to buy out only his arbitration years (2013-15).  I've never been a big fan of that type of extension.

Davis should make decent money as a first-timer, with a 33-home run platform year and some decent longball totals early in his Rangers career.  There's no doubting his power, though he's not one to draw a walk or add value on defense.  He's generally not the type to get a multiyear deal, because even if you design something team-friendly, he could still go Adam Lind on you.

Working under the assumption only Johnson, Hammel, Wieters, Davis, O'Day, Hunter, Reimold, Matusz, and Patton are retained, the Orioles are looking at an estimated $28.1MM for nine arbitration eligible players.

Matt Swartz's arbitration projections are available exclusively at MLB Trade Rumors.  To read more about his projection model, check out this series of posts.

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