The Orioles will be tendering contracts to all nine of their arbitration-eligible players. Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette told Baltimore reporters that they would all be back. Speculation about non-tender candidates included outfielders Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce as well as lefty reliever Troy Patton.
Others who are arbitration-eligible were never in doubt about whether their contracts would be tendered: first baseman Chris Davis, catcher Matt Wieters, closer Jim Johnson, starter Bud Norris, and relievers Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter. Johnson may have seemed like a potential non-tender candidate were it not for Duquette signaling before seaosn's end that the team would be tendering Johnson for next year, apparently undeterred by a projected $10.8 million salary for 2014.
Reimold, who has battled injuries and personal problems since his rookie season, seemed like the most likely cut. After a couple of lost seasons due to injuries to his neck and spine, Reimold might not have been a player they would want to give a guaranteed $1.2 million, as MLB Trade Rumors estimated. With no other left fielder currently on the roster, perhaps the team felt it best to hold on to their player in hopes that he might finally be healthy.
Wrist injuries were what kept Pearce sidelined for parts of the season. In the 44 games he played, he had a .261/.362/.420 batting line. Hang on, players are allowed to walk that often? Someone had really better tell the rest of the Orioles hitters. Pearce is projected to make $1.1 million.
Over his career, Reimold has hit a bit better (.775 OPS) against right-handed pitchers, which is unusual for a right-handed batter. Pearce has an .806 career OPS against left-handed pitchers. A possible platoon of these two players is not the craziest thing to contemplate, if they are both healthy, which can never be a sure thing.
A reliever like Patton may have gotten squeezed out simply because there are other relievers around and the O's don't have as much invested in him. His $1.2 million projected salary is not much, but the team might have had other plans for the roster spot. Patton's 2013 ERA of 3.70 was not as strong as his 2.43 from 2012. His strikeout rate slid and his walk rate and home run rate increased.
Any of the nine players could still be traded after being offered contracts. With recent relief acquisitions including Edgmer Escalona, Brad Brach, and Kelvin de la Cruz, the bullpen arms in particular may become expendable pieces. Even if they aren't traded, this is no guarantee they will make the roster on next year's team. A player could be cut before the season even begins - this process just guarantees they will get paid by someone at whatever level the team and player agree upon.
The Orioles have $43.7 million already guaranteed to six players. MLBTR estimates that these nine players will add another $53.6 million to the payroll. That means even if the O's don't trade any of the players, the payroll is already increased over last year. That's not even considering any possible free agent signing and whatever amount the pre-arbitration players will add to the final payroll.
More from Camden Chat:
- Orioles claim infielder Cord Phelps on waivers from the Cleveland Indians
- Orioles acquire RHP Brad Brach from Padres for minor league RHP Devin Jones
- Orioles offseason: How much money can the Orioles add to payroll? Is now the time to spend big?
- Orioles news: Michael Ohlman, Tim Berry, Eddie Gamboa added to 40-man roster