Friday was a busy day in the Warehouse. In addition to claiming Todd Redmond on waivers, the Orioles also worked out agreements on 2013 contracts with two of their remaining three arbitration-eligible players.
With today's agreements, Jim Johnson is set to make $6.5 million for the season and Jason Hammel will make $6.75 million. That leaves Darren O'Day as the only Orioles player who has yet to agree to terms for a 2013 contract. O'Day filed for a $3.2 million salary, with the Orioles countering at $1.8 million. Both Johnson and Hammel settled for contracts near the midpoint of their two offers. If the same occurs with O'Day, he would be in line for a $2.5 million salary in 2013.
Prior to today's contracts being settled, the O's had payroll commitments of $73.25 million. The combined salaries of Hammel and Johnson will add another $13.25 million, and if O'Day settles at that $2.5 million, they will end up with a payroll of $89 million plus whatever number of near-major league minimum salaries the team ends up paying.
When the dust settles, that's a boost of about $8 million over last year's payroll. That's despite Dan Duquette not adding a single player from outside the organization in free agency during this offseason. Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun observed on Twitter today that the Orioles have changed about 20% of their 40-man roster this offseason without dabbling in the free agent market at all, though that may change if the Jair Jurrjens signing is ever finalized. That's just minor trades and waiver claims. In short, the Duquette special.
Now that Joe Saunders has signed with Seattle, there aren't any more names out there that we know the Orioles to have seriously pursued, so it seems that the team that's currently constituted is the team that will be eventually coming north from Sarasota to Baltimore.
Johnson and Hammel were both names considered possible trade chips for the O's. Just this week last year was when Duquette traded Jeremy Guthrie to acquire Hammel and Matt Lindstrom. That deal received a mocking response from the national media and a disappointed one from the local blogO'sphere, but worked out pretty well for the Orioles. We can be sure if there was a deal out there that Duquette thought would make the Orioles better without Johnson or Hammel, he would have made it.
Instead, Hammel could well be the Opening Day starter and Johnson will look to duplicate his wild success from last season as the closer. This beats the heck out of forfeiting a draft pick to sign Rafael Soriano. Hammel's 3.43 ERA in 118 IP was the best starting pitching performance for the O's in several years despite his injury setbacks, and Johnson led the league in saves.
It's cool in the stats world to take a dump on saves these days, largely because of the obscene contracts given to players who have nothing going for them but saves. It's rather stupid to give out, say, Kevin Gregg-type contracts to players like Kevin Gregg whose statistics, other than the save column, are terrible. Gregg had 37 saves for Toronto in 2010 with a 1.39 WHIP. Jim Johnson notched his 51 saves with a 1.02 WHIP and is only being paid for this year.
LATER NEWS: Per MASN's Roch Kubatko, the O's are also close with O'Day on a two-year deal with an option for a third year. O'Day is a second-year arbitration player, so the option year would cover one year of free agency, providing some cost certainty for a player who was an important part of last year's excellent bullpen.