The Baltimore Orioles have officially signed all players that were previously eligible for arbitration as of yesterday afternoon. Last season the club went to arbitration with pitcher Brad Bergesen and won, while they came to terms with Adam Jones on the eve of his scheduled arbitration hearing. (Of course later on in the year the O’s signed Jones to a multi-year contract extension.) However in 2013 none of that will be an issue, as the team is set with all of it’s players inked to deals. The club agreed to a reported $6.75 million salary with closer Jim Johnson, while Jason Hammel agreed to a salary of somewhere between $8.25 and $6.75 million.
The Orioles also avoided arbitration with sidearm reliever Darren O’Day, signing him to a two-year contract worth a reported $5.4 million. (Reportedly there’s also a $4.25 million team option for 2015 with a $400,000 buyout.) The Orioles only needed to come to contract/salary terms with O’Day for 2013, however they went ahead and took care of him for next year also. In the world of relief pitchers, a two-year contract is a long-term deal. I think this tells us something about the past, present, and future. Dan Duquette recognizes that the bullpen has been a sore spot on the club for quite some time (preceding his arrival). So they felt O’Day did a good job for them last year, and went ahead and signed him potentially through 2015.
Over the years the Orioles haven’t gone to arbitration as often as some teams, however they haven’t necessarily been shy about it either. The club hasn’t lost an arbitration hearing since 1995 with pitcher Ben McDonald, so when they do go that route they generally win. It’s really a tight line to toe because if it’s a player such as Adam Jones the last thing you want to do is cause bad feelings over a player feeling like he’s being low-balled. However in last year’s aforementioned case with Brad Bergesen, quite frankly I thought that he was crazy not to take the salary offer he was given by the O’s (in the neighborhood of $800K) given his history of injuries and ineffectiveness. (Bergesen now plays in Japan.) In that case I don’t blame Bergesen as much as I do his agent, who was the driving force behind him going to arbitration. However regardless of that it’s always better for the team and it’s players to agree on a salary together as opposed to an arbitrator doing so. It makes for better chemistry once the season starts; that doesn’t appear to be an issue for the Orioles this year.