Going into yesterday’s 1 PM deadline, the Baltimore Orioles had six players with whom they needed to agree on contract terms for 2014 in order to avoid arbitration. By the deadline, five of those six were set – the exception being Matt Wieters. (On a side note, arbitration hearings would officially be scheduled after the 1 PM deadline yesterday – but that doesn’t really mean much in a sense given the fact that a deal can be reached anytime before the hearing.) Bud Norris actually agreed to a deal Thursday evening for $5.3 million, Tommy Hunter‘s salary will go up to $3 million, Troy Patton‘s will go up to $1.27 million, and Brian Matusz‘s to $2.4 million. (Patton of course will begin the season by serving a 50-game suspension for PED use.)
However the big news of the day was Chris Davis‘ deal in that his salary jumped from $3.3 million in 2013 to $10.35 million this year. This is something that should come as a pleasant surprise to Orioles fans in the the front office seemed to understand the fact that Davis was going to need a substantial leap in salary. Either that or they didn’t want to risk going to arbitration in fear that the number could be higher. One way or the other, Davis’ agent Scott Boras jumped at the Orioles’ offer and the deal was done.
It’s also worth noting that Boras, who’s had a somewhat icy relationship with the Orioles over the years, jumped at the offer that the Birds made to Tommy Hunter. The lone straggler so to speak is Matt Wieters; the Orioles offered $6.5 millon which Boras turned down and instead asked for $8.75 million. The Orioles’ number would only be a $1 million raise over last year, and quite frankly I think that’s probably too low. I’ll be very frank in that I’d be shocked if the two sides end up in arbitration. Ultimately I would be that they’ll settle somewhere in the $7-$8 million range. Arbitration is a pointless process in my view because it ends up costing both sides something in goodwill. Boras/Wieters would be arguing that he’s a great player and so forth, and the Orioles would be arguing no this guy isn’t worth that kind of money. Totally counter-productive. Play that forward a bit in fact…do we think that Boras isn’t petty enough to remember that when it comes time to discuss an extension for Wieters? Either that, or if the O’s decided to trade Wieters at some point, do we think that teams wouldn’t argue the price down by reminding Dan Duquette that he thought the guy wasn’t worth $x million this spring? Ultimately it’s a foolish process, and as I said I fully expect them to come to an agreement – and in short order at that.
Going back to Davis for a moment, the one thing I felt the Orioles should have done is possibly begin to explore a long-term deal with this salary discussion. For all we know they did…and in fairness this is the big “show me” year for Davis. The question everyone wants to know is can he keep up his production. I’m not sure it’s fair to expect 53 homers every year, however he does need to keep his power numbers up. But I would submit that there should be no question that he will keep his power numbers up, because they’ve exponentially gone up each year Davis has been with the Orioles and an everyday player.
I’ll be honest; Chris Davis is a must-have for the current Orioles in terms of the future. If he’s allowed to walk it would probably be a bigger travesty than the Birds letting Mike Mussina trade in his wings for pinstripes years ago. And there’s no question that those same Bronx Bombers would be in the market for Davis. So I think fans would like to have seen an extension of sorts, however for all we know this is the first step. As I said, Boras seemed to jump at the $10.35 million that the Orioles threw out there, so hopefully he has the same long memory that he’s seemed to have in a negative way towards the Orioles all these years.