While the Orioles have already agreed to an $11.4MM salary with closer Zach Britton for the 2017 season, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported this week that Baltimore at one point this winter attempted to lock in both of Britton’s remaining arbitration seasons on a two-year deal. That certainly would’ve made sense as a means of establishing some cost certainty, but the caveat in the scenario is that Baltimore sought to have a club option for a third year tacked onto the deal. Unsurprisingly, those talks didn’t come to fruition. It’s not difficult to see why Britton and his representatives wouldn’t be interested in that sort of deal. Since moving to the bullpen, he’s become arguably baseball’s best bullpen arm and just watched fellow relief aces Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman sign respective contracts of $80MM and $86MM. With plenty of financial security already in his pocket, there’s little reason for Britton to delay free agency by another season in exchange for guaranteeing his final arbitration year. That initial multi-year offer doesn’t appear to have led to any more substantial talks at this point, per Heyman.
More notes out of Baltimore…
- Caleb Joseph’s arbitration hearing took place yesterday, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, meaning we should find out today whether the presumptive backup to Welington Castillo will earn the $1MM figure submitted by his camp or the $700K figure submitted by the team. Hearings for Kevin Gausman and Brad Brach are set for Feb. 7 and Feb. 16, Kubatko adds. Gausman filed for $3.55MM, while the team countered at $3.15MM. Brach, meanwhile, submitted a $3.05MM figure and was met with a $2.525MM counter (all of which can be seen in MLBTR’s 2017 Arbitration Tracker).
- In a separate piece, Kubatko writes that the Orioles have met with Michael Bourn’s agent about a possible return to Baltimore. The O’s are looking for an outfielder that can bring an element of speed to the lineup and serve as a defensive upgrade at times, though Kubatko notes that they’re not necessarily looking for an everyday option. Bourn hit well in a small sample of 55 plate appearances with Baltimore last year following an Aug. 31 trade, batting .283/.358/.435 with a pair of homers. The 34-year-old Bourn posted an overall batting line of .264/.314/.371 in 413 plate appearances between the D-backs and Orioles last year.
- Matt Wieters’ former teammates, including Caleb Joseph and Chris Davis, are somewhat bewildered that the catcher is still on the market, writes Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun. “I didn’t see it playing out like this at all,” said Davis. “I thought it was going to be a lot quicker process, just the whole free agency process this year with the number of guys that were out there and the quality of players that are out there. I feel for Matty right now. It’s really tough not knowing where you’re going to be…” Mark Trumbo also weighed in on the slow-moving market for free agents and the glut of available veterans that remain unemployed for 2017. “There are still some guys fighting for jobs who are very high level major league players that bring a heck of a lot to the table, and they’re forced to look at one-year, incentive-laden contracts for a fairly low dollar amount, considering the type of seasons they put up,” said Trumbo.