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Orioles payroll expected to increase for 2015, according to Dan Duquette

The Orioles payroll will probably be going up for 2015, according to Dan Duquette, although a lot of that or even all of it could just be in raises for arbitration-eligible players.

Jim Rogash

Before this season, the Orioles were dormant for much of the offseason, only springing into action around when spring training started as certain free agents were still waiting to find teams. There were coy comments made about whether payroll would be going up compared to 2013 or not. That same question will not linger over this offseason, because Dan Duquette told reporters on Friday's moving day that he believes that the Orioles payroll will increase for next season.

The Orioles had an Opening Day payroll of about $105 million for the 2014 season, so they would be increasing from there. Most of that could be a result of players getting an increase in salary as they move through the arbitration process. While the O's only have about $54 million committed for next year's payroll (according to Cot's Contracts), that's not counting the arbitration players, most of whom will probably be sticking around.

The Cot's number of $45 million does not reflect that the Orioles are expected to pick up the options for Darren O'Day and Wei-Yin Chen, as the Baltimore Sun reported Thursday. That brings us to the $54 million before arbitration raises are considered.

Third time arbitration players would be: Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, Bud Norris, Alejandro De Aza, Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz, Steve Pearce

Players coming around to arbitration for the first time include: Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Zach Britton, Ryan Flaherty

All of them will be getting more money than they did this season, because that's how the process works. De Aza, Hunter, and Matusz can probably be considered potential non-tender candidates.

Still, it's little surprise that there would be some more money available. The O's drew about 1,300 fans per game more in 2014 than they did in 2013, and they'll receive some money for playing up through the ALCS as well - perhaps in the range of $10 million, based on a 2012 estimate by Wendy Thurm on Fangraphs. That's not for nothing.

Without factoring in the money from the players who could get non-tendered, the Orioles are already going to end up in the realm of $100 million in payroll without even adding someone from outside of the organization. That's assuming there are no trades, of course, as last offseason's Jim Johnson trade cleared some payroll.

If the Orioles are really down on Davis, for instance, they could potentially do the same kind of tender/trade thing as they did with Johnson last year. Someone will want to roll the dice on a guy who hit 53 homers two years ago, and there can be value in clearing some payroll space if it lets you make a signing like Nelson Cruz.

This also does not count whatever might happen with Nick Markakis. It looks like the O's are not going to exercise his $17.5 million option for 2015. That's an easy decision, but it seems unlikely that we've seen the last of him. If he signs a new contract, that will add to payroll as well, and have things increase over this year without any free agents getting added in.

The list of pending free agents is not awe-inspiring. How many names on this entire list can you point to and say, "Yes, I want HIM on the Orioles?" Now consider that those players are the few good ones on the market, and teams with more payroll resources than the Orioles will be vying for their services.

All of which means that the upcoming offseason could look a whole lot like the last one. If the Orioles essentially hibernate until spring training and see who's left in the bargain bin, it'll be a quiet winter. That's not necessarily a bad thing for a team coming off a 96-win season with two major players - Wieters and Manny Machado - returning from injury. That should help to absorb the impact of Cruz's likely departure.

Pitchers and catchers report in four months and a day. It already can't get here soon enough.