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Orioles exercise 2015 options for Chen, O'Day; decline options for Nicks Hundley and Markakis

The Orioles continued their offseason routine on Thursday evening, picking up options for 2015 for Wei-Yin Chen and Darren O'Day and declining 2015 options for Nick Hundley and Nick Markakis.

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

As expected on Thursday evening, the Orioles continued the routine maintenance at the beginning of the offseason. This time, they dealt with the players who have outstanding options for the 2015 season. The team picked up the options for pitchers Wei-Yin Chen and Darren O'Day, declining options for Nick Hundley and Nick Markakis.

With this move, both Hundley and Markakis are now free agents. Hundley's option was for $5 million, while Markakis could have been retained for $17.5 million. The O's will pay Markakis a $2 million buyout instead, and may yet end up bringing him back either due to making him the qualifying offer (one year, $15.3 million) or signing him to a different contract.

There's no surprise that either of these options were declined. Hundley stepped up as well as the team could have hoped after acquiring him, but with Matt Wieters returning next season, there's no need for a $5 million backup catcher when Caleb Joseph has showed he should be able to handle that duty for much less.

As for Markakis, well, you don't give $17.5 million to a player whose last two years produced a .274/.335/.371 batting line, no matter that he's the longest-tenured Oriole or any other sentimental reasons. It'll be a surprise to me if they don't find a way to bring him back.

When it came to picking up the Chen and O'Day options, it was a no-brainer for both. Chen will make $4.75 million next season, which is a great price for a solid, if unremarkable, lefty starter. O'Day's $4.25 million option also looks like a good price barring some catastrophic collapse. O'Day has appeared in 68 or more games in each of the last three seasons and has a 2.05 ERA in that time. Not bad for a guy who was claimed on waivers at a time when the Orioles did not even have a GM.

There is a five day window known as the Quiet Period where the Orioles have exclusive negotiating rights with their departing free agents. Coupled with the six who became free agents Thursday morning, the O's have eight players potentially heading out, including Nelson Cruz, Andrew Miller, and Delmon Young. On Tuesday, the free agent frenzy gets underway in earnest as anybody can start to sign anybody out there.